After signing for Celtic in January this year Niall McGinn made it known that the prospect of playing in huge European ties had been a decisive factor in his decision to move to Glasgow and he's pleased he's in contention for a starting slot in tonight's Europa League tie against Hamburg at Celtic Park. The speed of McGinn's recent progress to first team candidate has surprised even the player himself and now his aim is to add goals to his game just as he's done previously with the reserves and during his time at Derry City.
"It has been massive few days for me, with my start against Motherwell coming on the back of playing 90 minutes for Northern Ireland against the Czech Republic in Prague." said McGinn. "My confidence was good after getting the chance to come on in a couple of European games with Celtic this season. Now I'd just like to get my first goal for the club. I thought I had got it at the weekend, but I missed the target with a header then a shot. It won't stop me trying. I have got to keep working at it and I hope it will come soon."
"I'm only into my second season in full-time football." he continued. "So things are going to take a bit of time. But I hope when I do get that first goal, they will come regularly after that. During my first few months with Derry, I wasn't really in the side. But once I got in, I scored my first goal and ended up getting 10 from midfield, which I was satisfied with. I also create a few goals for others, and so long as I'm doing that - and get a few myself - I will be more than happy."
Following recent disappointing results against Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Rapid Vienna in the previous Europa League Group C games McGinn acknowledges that the team have it all to do if they want to progress to the next stage of the competition. "This is a must-win game for us." he said. "And we have to pick ourselves up from the disappointment of drawing with Motherwell at the weekend and losing the Old Firm game before that. Hamburg are a very good side and they will make it difficult for us. But I think we've been doing the right things in our games without being able to put the ball in the net as often as we would have liked.
"I feel in some games if we could get an early goal then we could probably push on and get one or two more." said Celtic's number 14. "Tonight I'd be happy if we could just win 1-0. In fact, I would take three points, no matter what way they come. We have got to set our stall out early on, get in their faces and get the crowd behind us. Teams in our Europa League group are of a high quality. So far, everyone has been beating one another. But we have to get as many points as we can at home."
McGinn's performances for both his club and his national team have drawn rave reviews, as well as man-of-the-match awards, and Niall is revelling in the reception he's been given by the Celtic fans recently. "I can't wait to get on the ball whenever I can. " said the winger. "The fans give me a cheer, and that is something I like. They have been great to me so far, and any more opportunities I get, I want to just keep doing what I've been doing."