Dedryck Boyata has thanked Kolo Toure for helping to keep his spirits up while he was out in the cold at Celtic.

The 26-year-old was a mainstay of Ronny Deila's side last term but he has featured just three times under Brendan Rodgers this term - with two of those performances coming this week.

And it was the influence of Toure, whom Boyata got to know during his youth days at Manchester City, that enabled Boyata not to lose hope over the last few months.

“I am a grown man," he said. "I don’t really need anyone. But on Wednesday night when I scored people came up to me and told me that I deserved it because they have seen me working hard. We have a very good team, a good group. The spirit is very good. When you are down you always have players who try to rally around you. Players like Kolo. Kolo is a very good person, a very important person in my life. Maybe you don’t know, but when I was at City he was the one who took care of me. I have played games with him before. When I was down he was always telling me ‘don’t worry, you’ve just got to wait for your chance, when it comes just take it’. So that was what I did.”

"The relationship I have with Kolo has been deep for a long time. When he came in I was the first one to hug him. You need this kind of person around you just to remind you that it is not finished.”

“The good thing about Kolo is he is a person with a very good spirit. He doesn’t like to lose. Any player will tell you if Kolo loses in training it is a very bad day for everybody.

“But then you have the manager who has helped me a lot, especially on the points he has spoken to me about. I can see the difference.”

And Boyata has acknowledged that not playing has been a test to his own professional pride.

“I am not going to lie to you, it has been a very difficult time for me since the beginning of the season," he said. "But I have been working hard and waiting for this kind of moment. I am very happy with what has happened this week. Despite all the speculation, I wasn’t listening to anything. But you never know what can happen. But I am still a Celtic player. That’s all I was thinking about.”

“I am working hard for that, but only the manager can decide this.

“To be honest, the manager has been talking to me. He has told me what to expect for myself. He has told what was missing and what I had to work on. The moment he thought that he had got what he needed he gave me my chance. To be honest, it was very difficult for me, but told me why I wasn’t playing. I just had to work and get to where he wanted me to get to.”