Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata is looking forward to having the chance to play in “big games” in the Europa League ahead of Thursday’s clash with Fenerbahce.
Ronny Deila’s side opened their campaign in Group A with an impressive 2-2 draw away at Ajax.
Their task doesn’t get any easier in the second round of matches, even if Fener were surprisingly beaten 3-1 at home by Molde in their first fixture.
And Vitor Pereira’s side will still be hurting from Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of Besiktas in the Istanbul derby, a loss which saw them replaced at the top of the Turkish Super Lig by their fierce rivals.
“When I saw we had drawn Fenerbahce, Ajax and Molde, I was really happy as we knew we would be playing big games,” Boyata told the club’s official website.
“Thursday is a big game, we all know it, and we are all looking forward to it.”
Boyata could find himself going up against two familiar faces in Robin van Persie and Nani.
The pair moved to Turkey in the recent transfer window from Manchester United, a club Boyata knows all about following his time with their local rivals, Manchester City.
However, the defender – who signed a four-year contract with Celtic in June – hopes impressive performances against high-quality opponents can not only help Celtic but also enhance his own international prospects.
Boyata has so far only made one appearance for Belgium, though he was included in the squads for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Bosnia and Cyprus in September.
“Thursday is a really big game and I want to play really well to make a statement,” he said.
“We have our next game in Andorra and if we win that then we go through, but then it still goes to the last game against Israel at home as we look to get first spot.
“The Belgium squad is full of potential. It’s not easy to get into the team. But if I have the chance to get in, I want to say to myself that I did everything I could.
“Coming here, I wanted to play a lot of games. I had played games before but it wasn’t enough. In the first two months here, I have played more than I have played in the last two years.”
Celtic go into the match having kept three clean sheets on the spin since the score draw in Amsterdam.
Jozo Simunovic could recover from an ankle injury in time to feature against Fener, but fellow defender Charlie Mulgrew remains on the sidelines with a thigh strain.