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SAYS TOM ROGIC I've missed so much football that travelling around world for a game with Kurdistan is no problem at all; PREMIERSHIP PLANE FOR THE JERSEY.

Byline: sport@dailyrecord.co.uk EUAN MCLEAN

TOM ROGIC stood patiently waiting behind his manager as Ronny Deila talked about his knackered Celtic players running on empty after the rigours of a frantic first half of the season.

But don't expect the Australian to grumble about stiff legs and jet lag when he steps on the first flight out of Glasgow this morning to begin a 24-hour trip back to his homeland to represent his country.

Because the way Rogic sees it he has been playing this patient waiting game for far too long to even consider not putting his body through the strain of travelling across 10 time zones in the pursuit of more football.

Perhaps if he was in his early 30s with a haul of medals and a headful of World Cup memories his attitude would be different and maybe he'd welcome the idea of putting his feet up for a week, like the majority of his Hoops team-mates.

But not as a 22-year-old who is as keen as mustard to establish himself in his national team and fired on by the frustration of missing the best part of last year because of a groin injury that curtailed his activities for both club and country.

So while most of Deila's Bhoys will enjoy a well-earned rest Rogic can't wait to get his teeth into a double header on the other side of the world.

The Aussie will kick off with Kurdistan on Thursday followed by another opponent yet to be confirmed over the weekend.

By the time he arrives back in Scotland next Wednesday his body clock will be scrambled and he'll be expected to adjust quickly to prepare for Kilmarnock that Saturday followed by a return to Europa League action against Ajax five days after that.

The merry-go-round doesn't stop but Rogic would rather be in perpetual motion than sitting frustratedly in limbo wondering when his next game is coming. Before catching the team bus for a four-hour return from Dingwall last night Rogic said: "I'm on a flight to Australia first thing tomorrow morning which will be about 24 hours travelling.

"I'll have a couple of games while I'm out there and then be back here the following Wednesday. But that's just the nature of it, you get used to it as it's something you just have to do.

"Our first game is on Thursday against Kurdistan and the second game is not confirmed yet so we'll have to wait and see.

"I don't mind the demands of travelling. Any chance to represent your country is a privilege so I'm not going to turn that down.

"Off the back of last season when I missed so much due to injury it's nice to be getting as many games as I am.

"I'm just looking to build on the start of the season, there's still a lot of football to come and hopefully I can keep improving. It's not easy to get your body used to the different time zones.

"I'll land in Australia on Tuesday night and get my body as recovered as quickly as I can for the game on Thursday and then go from there.

"But there's nothing you can do with it, you just have to deal with it and be professional about it."

Which kind of sums up the challenge Rogic and his team-mates faced yesterday on a rain-soaked Dingwall pitch that was as much a test of character as it was skill.

Stung by fierce criticism in the wake of their Europa League defeat by Molde, challenged by their manager to show more guts, this was the kind of inhospitable stage where to a man the Celtic players would have to stand up and be counted.

And this time they responded well to win their battles in a first half that could have gone either way.

In 38 minutes it was Rogic who made the crucial breakthrough, unleashing a devastating finish from the edge of the County area that set Celtic on course for a victory soon assured beyond all doubt by a secondhalf double from Leigh Griffiths and Nir Bitton's final nail in the coffin.

Rogic said: "I'm not sure I've scored a better goal than that. I had a backheel against Hearts the other week but I think it was probably my best.

"It came at an important time when it was at 0-0 and a bit tense. Then we came out in the second half and got a couple more good goals which made it a bit more comfortable.

"It's a tough place to come but it was important to bounce back from midweek with a good performance.

"There's not many teams who are going to come here and win 4-1 so it was really positive. I don't think we performed to the level we know we can against Molde but that's gone now and our focus was only on today.

"We've won 4-1 but it was still a battle. If you look at the conditions in the first half and the fact they had a good chance to put a header away at 0-0 things could have become quite difficult very quickly. Everyone was feeling it was a short turnaround between games so it was important we got out on the pitch to show what we can do - and I think we did that."

Gutted County boss Jim McIntyre cursed his side's failure to take their chances when the game was at 0-0 but admitted it's far from the first time he's had a go at his troops about it.

McIntyre said: "I don't think it was a 4-1, that's for sure. There were pivotal moments in the game. We didn't take the glaring opportunities we had while Celtic punished us when we made mistakes.

"We could've been 2-0 up, they were big chances. That's the way it has been falling for us. We lack a bit of finesse in front of goal.

"As disappointed as I am with the goals we lost, going forward and in a creative capacity the final touch was missing. I have been saying that for the last four or five weeks.

"With the amount we create we have got to put away more."

POWER AND GLORY Rogic lets rip to score before taking the plaudits, below, and says it was a better goal than his backheel flick at Hearts, bottom

CAPTION(S):

WHAT A SCREAMER Rogic celebrates his opening goal in Dingwall

FRUSTRATED McIntyre rues his side's missed chances
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 9, 2015
Words:1089
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