Two recent short substitute appearances against Hamilton Accies and Falkirk have confirmed the manager's faith in McCourt and the player feels ready to make a telling contribution in the quest for 4-in-a-row. "It's been great to be part of the team recently." he said. "Hopefully there's plenty more of it to come. My aim now is to have a say in the last six or seven games this season. I want to repay the manager's faith."
"It's been well documented that I've struggled a bit with injuries and my fitness since I came to Celtic." he said. "There's a nerve in my back that's been giving me pain in my hamstring- it feels almost as if I've torn it. Even the doctors couldn't pinpoint what the problem was and, because it was the nerve causing the problem, scans didn't show anything. But, thankfully, for the past three or four weeks I've been feeling really good."
The 25-year-old Northern Irish international knew that there would be a huge gulf between the fitness required to play in the League of Ireland and that which would be required at Celtic but he has worked hard in the gym and on the training field. "I knew before I came to Celtic that I would have to work on my fitness." he said. "It wasn't as if I was joining just a normal SPL club, I was joining one of the top teams in Britain. The difference, having come from the League of Ireland was massive."
"When I came it was in pre-season so it was always going to be tough," he continued. "But here it was a different level. At the clubs I was at before, there was always a group of lads who were in good shape and some boys who weren't. Here at Celtic, though, everyone is super-fit. There's not one who you might think, 'He needs to put a bit of work in'."
"The manager has the whole team in unbelievable condition." said Celtic's number 20. "That's shown throughout a lot of our recent games, particularly at this stage of the season, where we've overrun teams in the last 10 to 15 minutes. I'm in 10 times better condition than when I came. I haven't played as many first-team games as I'd have liked. I'm not up to full speed, but I'm heading in the right direction."Although he's hoping to impose himself in the remaining SPL games Paddy's longer term aim is to hit the ground running next season. "If I can stay injury-free for three or four months straight, I'll be in a good position for the start of next season." he said. "In fairness to the manager, every time I've come back to training from the treatment room, he's had me in his first team and that's been terrific. If I can keep on looking after myself and get a few games under my belt, then I'll have high hopes for next season."