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BAUER PRAISES CELTIC RIVAL

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MORITZ BAUER has welcomed the friendly rivalry from Hatem Abd Elhamed for the right-back role at Celtic.

The Austrian made only his second start for the Hoops in the frustrating 1-1 draw with Hibs at Easter Road at the weekend while the Israeli remained on the substitutes’ bench.

Now the internationals could be going head to head for a place in Neil Lennon’s starting line-up against Cluj for the Europa League Group E encounter at Parkhead tomorrow night.

Elhamed, bought for £1.6million from Hapoel Be’er Sheva in July, has been impressive since his arrival and Bauer insists that kind of competition can only help him raise his game.

The player, who is on loan from Championship side Stoke City until the end of the season, told the Daily Record: “Hatem played a fantastic game in the derby against Rangers. He did a terrific job when needed.

“We’re different characters and maybe I can add more attacking football while he’s a great defender. We have a lot of games in the next three weeks and will need every player.

ON THE RUN…Hatem Abd Elhamed shows his power.

“We have to be focused on all competitions. There is no point losing in the league and winning in Europe. It will be different tactics for every game.

“And it’s up to the gaffer how he wants to play with the full-backs and that was probably the thinking of the board and the manager when they signed me.

“I’m very happy to be here and the competition should be good because you won’t let your standard drop.

“I can learn from Hatem and he’s an international, so we’ll make each other better.”

Bauer has been capped six times for Austria, but was omitted from boss Franco Foda’s squad for last month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Latvia and Poland.

He admitted he wasn’t too upset, but could be brought into the next player pool which could see him on a collision course with Elhamed as the Austrians face Israel and Slovenia this month.

He added: “I wasn’t too disappointed not to be called up to the national team because I had a lot of things to do and I was able to use the time.

“We are third in the qualifying group, just a point behind Slovenia, and we still have to play them, so it’s all to play for in a tight group with Israel, Slovenia and Poland. But we’re up there and it’s a big target to qualify.”

Neil Lennon had to react quickly when Mikael Lustig and Cristian Gamboa left the Hoops at the end of their contracts in the summer.

Bauer and Elhamed both look accomplished in the role, but they now face competition from 18-year-old Jeremie Frimpong who put in a Man of the Match performance during his sparkling debut in the 5-0 Betfred League Cup quarter-final win over Partick Thistle a week ago.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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