A routine second-leg victory in Estonia with a 5-0 lead in your back pocket may not be everyone’s idea of a big game, but for Craig Gordon, it was massive. It was also a moment that he thought may never come.

The 36-year-old has come through a tough seven months since being dropped by former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after the December defeat to Rangers at Ibrox, a game in which he felt he performed well.

A knee injury that curtailed his attempts at regaining his place from Scott Bain made that spell all the tougher, and the Scotland man admits there were times when he thought he may never pull on the gloves again.

Finally, for the first time in a competitive match since that game back at the tail end of last year, he has done so in a game that mattered for Celtic, and there was no hiding the significance of that moment to Gordon after fearing his career may be over when his knee problem flared up, having come through a similar injury in his younger days.

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“It’s something that can affect you longer term than this,” Gordon said.

“But having had a very similar thing with my other knee I knew how tough it was going to be. It took me two years to get right the last time. This time it was seven months, so I must have learned my lesson having come back sooner.

“But when I first got the injury my first thought was: ‘I’m in trouble here, definitely’

“There have been niggling doubts at various points since. Even during the hard work in pre-season, I would come off training and my knee would be sore with a lot of fluid in it. I’d have to go back and ice it up.

“But it responded really well, and I’ve taken part in more training sessions that I maybe thought I would be able to. And I feel in great shape because of that.

“It was great to be back out there - it felt like it had been a long time. It was [also] great to get my first 90 minutes in. I hadn’t managed to do that in pre-season, so it felt good. It’s a big stepping stone for me, a big hurdle, and I was relatively happy with the way it went.

“Being out for the length of time I was out was tough. To be out of the team, whether it was the manager’s choice, or you’re injured, it’s difficult to find the strength to come back again and show what you’re made of.

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“It’s been a challenge, I’m not going to lie. But finally, I’m in a position now where I can start to compete again and give my best on the pitch when I’m chosen to play.

“I just want to play as many games as I can.”

That may be significantly more feasible than even Gordon may have thought over the summer judging by the comments of his current manager, Neil Lennon, prior to the game in Estonia, who stated that he hasn’t yet decided who his number one will be.

That has been a great fillip to Gordon, who says that it was difficult for him to get over being cast aside by former boss Rodgers after the team flopped at Ibrox. Ironically, he believes the training schedule assigned to those not playing regularly during that time may have exacerbated his injury woes.

“That took me a while deal with,” he said. “I felt I’d played a pretty good game that day. So, to then go out the team was tough.

“[Rodgers] first of all wanted to try Scott in a run of games. It was something he’d never done, it was always the odd cup game here and there. It was never back to back games and he felt he wanted to do that.

“He spoke to me during the winter break and said he was going to give him four of five games to look at what his options were in terms of goalkeepers.

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“I don’t think Scott lost a goal in the first few games and went from strength to strength.

“After a month or so the manager came back to me and said he didn’t want to change it because the team was playing really well. So that was that.

“So, it was explained to me; I didn’t like it but that’s football. Scott did really well, so what I did then was try and work really hard to get back. But unfortunately for me I got the injury that ended up keeping me out for quite a long time.

“The injury had been coming, it was something I’d been dealing with. I was coping with it for the best part of 18 months. I was managing it and getting through games.

“Then when I was out the team the rest of the boys seemed to train more in preparation for getting back into the team, and that’s when it was too much for me.

“There are always frustrations being out the team. I have definitely felt that from time to time. But Tuesday was a big night for me.

“I just want to play here as much as I possibly can, until I’m told I’m no longer needed. But I’m ready for the challenge.

“I’m ready to give everything I’ve got to play but so will Scott. Whoever plays, plays. We get on really well together in training so there are never any bad words or animosity. We always support each other and that’s the way it’ll stay. But I’m just happy to be back competing for a place. It’s a nice feeling after so long.”