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Frimpong says hard work is behind quick start at Celtic

The teenage full-back believes he can make himself first choice for Neil Lennon.

Frimpong made his first league start against Ross County.
Frimpong made his first league start against Ross County. SNS Group

Celtic's teenage full-back Jeremie Frimpong has said hard work on the training ground has been behind his surprising ascent into the first team.

The Dutch-born right-back was a deadline day signing from Manchester City but was behind fellow summer recruits Hatem Abd Elhamed and Moritz Bauer in the pecking order at the start of the season. 

Despite being seen as a player Celtic would develop, he made his debut in the League Cup against Partick Thistle and then his first league start in Saturday's 6-0 demolition of Ross County.

Frimpong admitted he was further ahead than he expected to be in this stage of life at Celtic but said that he had worked hard to get his chance and would keep up his full efforts to remain in Neil Lennon's thinking.

"I'm enjoying it a lot," he said. "It's everything I could ask for and at a young age as well. I'm really grateful and I'm going to keep working hard.

"When I first heard I was going to start my first league game I was really happy. I went out there and just played like I normally play and hopefully there's many more to come.

"I got chances. It's come so soon and I'm grateful for that but I'm going to keep the hard work going."

The 18-year-old acknowledged the competition to get into the team but said his long-term aim was to be the established first-choice right-back at the club.

"I think in training I always work and the manager and players have been seeing that," he said. "If I don't get picked I'll just be patient and see what happens.

"I bring a lot to the team attacking and defensively so that's good. I'm not sure about [being first choice] this season but hopefully when the time comes."

Frimpong, who revealed Neil Lennon had worked on the training ground on his crossing before he set up James Forrest's goal at the weekend, said the Celtic boss had hinted that his first league appearance was on the cards after a good training session.

He said: "There was a session where we did 11-a-side and I was really good in that. [Neil Lennon] was like 'fantastic' and I was waiting to go home and he said 'Just be ready'. I had a smile on my face and I thought 'Yes, here we go'."

The teenager will sit out this week's Europa League clash with Lazio as he wasn't included in Lennon's squad for the competition but he is targeting regular appearances throughout the season and "winning the league".

Frimpong also had his say on the recent spate of racist incidents in football, revealing he would rather stay on the pitch to make his point than walk off if subjected to abuse.

"In the past, when I was younger I did get some of that," he said. "I went away with Man City to Italy and the fans were being racist.

"It's come back a bit, in the England game and there's nothing you can say to make it stop. It just kills the mood and the game of football.

"I wouldn't walk off the pitch. At the end of the game I would be asking 'Why?' but I wouldn't walk off. I would play so hard to get a goal and say 'This is what you get'. It would motivate me more and when we won I would love that."

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