Jonny Hayes has insisted that he would be happy to play in goal for Celtic so long as it means getting game time on the pitch.

The Republic of Ireland internationalist made his competitive debut for Brendan Rodgers’ side during Friday night’s win over Linfield and is determined to stake his place for a permanent role in the team.

Hayes replaced James Forrest in the second period and remains satisfied to play on either flank, depending on the needs of the team.

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Given the influence of Scott Sinclair on the opposite side, it is fair to expect that Hayes and Forrest will battle it out for the starting jersey.

“I would play between the sticks if need be,” said Hayes. “I have always been like that and as long as I am on the pitch I am happy, regardless. If I am on and the manager thinks I can do a job there then I will do my best. I have no preference, as long as I am on it.

“I have been eager, very keen and the manager probably sensed that. Every minute on the pitch is going to be cherished and the more time I spend on it, the better.”

Hayes has admitted that the tension around Friday night’s game in Belfast was a factor in the performance against Linfield, although Celtic effectively strolled through the 90 minutes.

The off-field issues with Leigh Griffiths being booked as he dodged glass bottles, coins and cans dominated the headlines, while the riot police and dogs on the pitch to contain a pocket of Linfield supporters added an edge to the game.

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There are around 1500 Linfield fans expected at the return leg on Wednesday evening but given the dominant nature of Celtic performance and the fact that the game is a sell-out at Celtic Park, few would expect there to be any issue for Rodgers side as they look to progress through the competition.

Dundalk or Rosenborg await at the third qualifying round stage but Hayes has insisted that the full focus now is on putting in a solid 90 minutes against Linfield.

“Circumstances do play a part but we got the early goals over there,” Hayes told Celtic TV. “Tactically they were well organised but to come away with no goals conceded ahead of the next leg was a good day all round.

“Linfield will have to come and play and look for a goal or two so hopefully it might make for a more exciting game.

“We would maybe have liked another goal, but credit to Linfield they sat in and were well organised but we were definitely the happier side to have come away with a 2-0 win.”