CARL STARFELT knows only too well that the Celtic defence have been the subject of fierce criticism of late, but he says they can dispel fears ahead of their match against Bayer Leverkusen by being braver in their box.

The centre-back has been disappointed with the recent run of results posted by Celtic, but is certain that their poor form – on paper at least - can be turned around if they can find a clinical edge at both ends of the field.

And he says there would be no better time to start than against the dangerous Germans tonight at Celtic Park.

“I think our performances have been pretty good though obviously we haven’t gotten the results,” he said.

“One main part is to be more clinical when we get the chances and more clinical in our own box and not concede goals, and we have been working very hard on that.

“We hope to improve those parts especially but our play between the boxes has been pretty good. We have still been dominating games and creating chances and not conceding too many chances. “But like I said, we need to defend our goal better and we need to score with our chances.”

A warning of what teams at this level are able to do to this Celtic defence was posted in the 4-3 defeat at the hands of Real Betis on matchday one of this Europa League group section, but Starfelt is confident that the lessons of that night in Seville can be carried into the game this evening.

“We are of course analysing those and what we need to do better,” he said.

“It’s different things on different goals but I think the main part is that we need to be really brave in our own box and really work together in our own box to not concede.

“And of course we are going to be meeting quality players so it is important our defence is very good, and with our defence I mean the whole team, because we want to defend as a unit.

“Of course, it is going to be a tough challenge for us. Like I said, I think we have been playing good even though we lost away to Betis. We showed that we can play our football from the start against big teams even away.

“Especially now we are going to play at Celtic Park in front of our fans we are confident we can play out football and hopefully get a result.”

The criticism aimed at the Celtic backline hasn’t all been about the collective though, with Starfelt aware that his own performances have been the subject of scrutiny since his arrival in the summer.

Again, he hopes to dispel any fears around his own proficiency in the coming games as he gets to grips with what is now expected of him.

“I know that I can perform better,” he said. “You have not seen the best of me yet, in my own opinion. I am confident that I will just get better and better.

“It is different football, not only a new country. It is a new team and the way the team wants to play. Sometimes it can take a bit of adaptation time. I know that and I am confident I will get better and better the more I play.

“I just know there are parts of my game that I want to improve, and that I’ve not been 100 percent happy with.

“I am working very hard on them, on the training pitch and the games, and also analysing it outside. I will get better.

“I like to analyse the performance myself. I don’t read too much reviews, or what other people think. I have some people that I listen to and talk to, and go through these things with.

“I would say I want to learn all the time. I go through my performances: what it good, what is bad. And I try to find ways to improve.

“If I find something I don’t like, I try to find different ways to do it.”