No rain on Hinkel's parade after adapting to Scottish weather

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The Independent Football

Andreas Hinkel believes he has adapted to life at Celtic after realising playing football in the Scottish winter is sometimes impossible. The former Stuttgart defender joined the Hoops from Seville in January during one of the wettest recent winters in Scotland.

The weather has added to a fixture backlog, with Celtic facing Dundee United at Parkhead tonight ahead of a rearranged trip to Motherwell on Saturday.

But the surfaces in the matches that have gone ahead have taken Hinkel aback and he could get a further shock at Fir Park, where a waterlogged pitch forced the postponement of last night's game between Gretna and St Mirren.

However, the right-back insists he is coming to terms with the switch from sunny Spain to soaking Scotland.

"At the beginning, it was a change for me because in Spain the pitches are better and all the teams want to play football," the German said. "But here sometimes it's not possible to play football because the pitches are not so good.

"I had to get used to this style of football but now I think it's not a problem. It is a big change from Spain to Scotland but it is similar to the weather in Germany."

The 25-year-old also claims he had no problem adapting to the demands on an Old Firm player, which have caught out some foreign imports, and have been intensified this year by the revival of Rangers. Celtic sit four points behind their neighbours in the Scottish Premier League while the prospect of an Old Firm Scottish Cup final remains. But Hinkel said: "I don't feel so much pressure here at all. We had it in Spain, we had it in Germany, it's normal. You have to win your games, it is the only thing that counts. Especially here in Celtic, you are always the favourite and have to win.

"It's always a big battle between Celtic and Rangers. I think it will be a hard battle for the last few weeks between the two teams. But we will give our best until the last day, we will fight for the chance to win two titles."

With three Old Firm matches still to be played before the end of the SPL season, Hinkel is well aware of their importance.

But he is determined to ensure the derbies are meaningful by picking up maximum points against United and at Motherwell on Saturday. "I think these are the most important games this year," said the German of the Old Firm matches. "After these games, we will know what's happening. It's like a final.

"But I think the best thing to do is go from game to game and be in a good position for the games against Rangers. To keep pressure on Rangers, we have to win the next games and can't show them weakness. We have to be strong."

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