Celtic striker is dancing in the Derk

CELTIC'S new season is eight days away - and Derk Boerrigter is already living on borrowed time.

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Derk Boerrigter misses during last night's 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna
Derk Boerrigter misses during last night's 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna

The Dutch winger failed to make any impression in his first season at the club following his £3million transfer from Ajax.

A series of injuries punctuated his campaign, and undermined the reputation he brought with him from Holland.

Even when he was fit and selected by Neil Lennon, Boerrigter never did enough to earn a regular start.

There is no denying Lennon lost his patience with the under-performing 27-year-old.

So, a new season under a new manager should have been heaven-sent for Boerrigter, who has admitted he failed to cut the mustard in his debut campaign.

The fresh start certainly seems to have done the trick for Teemu Pukki, who, after an enterprising sub appearance in the opening friendly against Krasnodar, came off the bench to score in last night's 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna.

He needed two chances to convert a good cross from Adam Matthews 19 minutes from time, but retained his composure to find the net.

The Finn is finally beginning to look like a man comfortable in a Celtic strip. Boerrigter looks as much of a misfit as ever.

He insists he has lost none of his in-your-face-belief in his own ability, and claims to be the man Ronny Deila is looking for to carry a threat in the wide positions.

However, two games into the pre-season warm up preparations, the only thing Boerrigter is delivering is more of the same, which proved not good enough last year.

It surely can't be any coincidence Deila is talking openly about revisiting the Georgios Samaras situation.

The Greek wide man appeared to have ended his six-and-a-half years at Parkhead under a cloud, insisting he was hurt at the fact he was never offered a new contract by the club he feels he served well, especially in big European games, when he was the most potent threat the team carried.

Can Boerrigter ever achieve such status? On the evidence to date, that's extremely doubtful.

He was hard to spot in the 45 minutes he played in the opening win against Krasnodar.

Last night, he must have wished he could have remained even further in the background.

Instead, he took centre stage, missing astonishingly when, unselfishly, Anthony Stokes put him in front of an open goal as Celtic pushed for a first-half equaliser.

Coming just a couple of minutes after he had burst down the left wing, only to tamely duff his delivery to the team-mates who had burst a gut to get into the penalty box, the look on Boerrigter's face told its own story.

He wanted the earth to open up for him to hide. But, it could be the exit door which opens instead as Celtic cut their losses and attempt to recoup some of the money paid for him.

With two more warm-up games to come before the action begins for real with the first of their Champions League qualifiers, against KR Reykjavik a week tomorrow, Boerrigter does not have time on his side.

Deila is assessing all of the players he has inherited.

But with several of the kids given their chance regularly bringing more to the team, there could be some important decisions made.

The Norwegian has already made it clear it is very much a case of listen to what he says, act upon it in training and in games, or prepare to step aside.

How that translates into Dutch is not known. But it is a warning Boerrigter better understand quickly.

Unlike in the game against Krasnodar, when he swapped all 11 players at the break, Deila did not go for wholesale changes at half-time in the match against Rapid.

This time, he waited until just after the hour before introducing seven fresh sets of legs - only Charlie Mulgrew, Filip Twardzik and Virgil van Dijk played the full match.

Deila was forced into an unscheduled - and unwanted - change after just one minute, however, when captain Scott Brown pulled up clutching a hamstring in his right leg after what had been his first touch of the ball.

The loss of the captain on a stretcher appeared to upset the players he left behind, and Rapid were more than happy to take advantage, pushing the Hoops far deeper than Deila wanted to see them positioned.

The new boss could be seen urging his charges forward from the touchline. But the exuberance of the opposition, allied to the loss of their influential midfield anchor, meant it was easier said than done.

Having lost Brown, they also lost an early goal, Van Dijk heading a whipped-in free-kick past the stranded Lukasz Zaluska after only nine minutes.

Perhaps the Dutch defender failed to read the flight of the ball through the smoke from the pyrotechnics from the noisy and jubilant Rapid fans, in party mood as they packed the Gerhad-Hanappi Stadion, which was staging its final game before the club move to a new home.

Zaluska - new signing Craig Gordon was not included in the squad as he is still getting up to match speed and watched the match with Fraser Forster after his return from England World Cup duty - had to be at his best to thwart Rapid as they attempted to increase their fortuitous lead in the first half.

They were certainly a step up from Russian outfit Kuban Krasnodar, in speed, technique and determination - as their strong tackling underlined. Which meant it was a tough test for the Hoops, who wore their new all-white third strip for the first time.

The majority stood up to it well.

Those who failed to perform will be informed of this by Deila in the next few days as the manager begins to turn his mind to who will play in Iceland next week.

The final two games in Austria, against Linz tomorrow then Dukla Prague on Friday, will be used for fine tuning.

But, one Boe, in particular, needs to start hitting the right notes, or his farewell fanfare could be about to be played.

Football

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