Leo Hjelde knows his future lies at Celtic – but the Ross County defender says learning curves like ones brought to him at the weekend is key right now.
The teenage defender was signed on loan by John Hughes in the winter transfer window and the Staggies manager has put faith in him, playing the Norwegian five times so far. But a 1-0 loss came on Saturday against St Mirren after the Celtic loanee was deemed to have brought Collin Quaner down in the box.
It was a soft penalty but Hjelde is learning all the time: “I haven’t seen it back yet but in the moment I felt it was a simulation. I felt that I didn’t even touch him. First-team football has been different but I feel like I am keeping up with it.
“Physically it can be difficult, especially if you are playing against guys at 6 foot 5 but you have to learn to play around that and be a bit more streetwise. That will come. This will hopefully put me in a better position to go back there and try to play football at Celtic. That is what my goal is and all the minutes I get here will help me.
“Every game I get just now is a bonus for me. You don’t see a lot of 17-year-olds playing in the Scottish Premiership so I am looking to make the most of this experience.”
He’s hoping his Dingwall spell can help his future career goals, opening up on advice from fellow Norwegian defender Kristoffer Ajer: “Kristoffer is a very good player and he had the same career path like me too. He had played more games by the time that he came to Scotland but he is someone that I definitely look up to.
“I like to be on the ball and try and create things to but my main priority always has to be defending. Getting this experience will hopefully be a benefit when I go back to Celtic. I keep in contact with him [Ajer] still. He has been very good to me and he still gets in touch and gives me advice.”
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