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Greg Taylor hails Dubai team-bonding in this week's Celtic View

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FOR Greg Taylor, Celtic’s training camp in Dubai gave him the chance to get to know his team-mates better, and the defender has returned home with an even greater appreciation of just how hungry this Hoops team are for success. Now, with the title run-in ready to resume, Taylor hopes his work in Dubai has convinced his manager to allow him to play a big part.

The winter break offers the players a brief period of recovery from what has been a hectic first half of the season before they engross themselves in a camp with an element of a mini pre-season about it, to ensure they return for the second half rested and at peak fitness.

“There was a tough amount of games in December,” said Taylor in an exclusive interview with this week’s Celtic View. “To get the wee break is always good for preparing us for the next half of the season because the next few months are key.

“The training was very similar to a pre-season set-up because there’s a lot of hard graft. We did the bleep tests early in the week, and I don’t think anyone really ever enjoys it, but it was done to a very high level from the majority of the squad.

“We did a variety of different things that we don’t usually get the chance to do in training back home because we’re always preparing for games. We got a good mix of work done throughout the week and it’ll only benefit us now that we’re back.

“The temperature was generally in the high 20s or low 30s, so the training was tough in the heat. That’s what you want at this time of year, though. We’ll all benefit from that and I think it’s set us up nicely for the second half of the season.”

There are many more benefits to Celtic’s camp than that, though, especially for Taylor who experienced it for the first time. The Scotland internationalist arrived near the end of the summer transfer window, which meant he missed Celtic’s pre-season camps in Austria and Switzerland.

The increased training time together is invaluable in helping the squad gel, but bonding off the pitch can also have an impact on how the team plays, and Taylor appreciates the chance to get to know the other players a bit better with them spending more time together.  

“We all share rooms as a way of getting know each other more and that helps,” said Taylor. “The boys all enjoy sharing because you get a wee bit more craic with one another so it’s not too bad. Most of the boys need to relax and recover after training, so you do find yourself all spending time together and it’s good.

“It was good to spend a week together in close quarters and get to know some of the other boys in the team a bit more. You spend a lot of time together training, but you don’t always have quality time together chatting and really getting to know each other.

“I actually got to know Jozo a bit more because he’s been away on rehab for the majority of my time here at Celtic. I haven’t seen a lot of him, so it was nice to see him and spend some more time with him. It’s good to have big Jozo about the place and back training so that’s another bonus.

“The closeness of a squad is really important. I’m quite loud, so I settle in quite quickly with everyone and I get on well with all the boys. The nucleus of the squad with boys like Broony and Cal is really important and they do a great job of bringing everyone together. They’ve been here for many years and they make a point of welcoming the new boys straight away.”

For the full interview with Greg Taylor, see this week’s Celtic View, out now.

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