James McCarthy spoke of his move to Celtic as a “long time coming” and he is ready to make his long-awaited debut against Dundee on Sunday.
The 30-year-old midfielder, who has been capped 43 times for the Republic of Ireland, signed a four-year deal this week after leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season.
McCarthy was at the Parkhead club for a brief spell as a youngster before he moved to Hamilton where he was only 15 when he made his first-team debut.
During a career which took him to Wigan and Everton before Palace, there was regular speculation about a move to Celtic for the Glaswegian.
McCarthy could not be more delighted his dream came true and now hopes he gets the nod from boss Ange Postecoglou to play at Parkhead this weekend.
“It has been a long time coming,” said McCarthy, who trained at Lennoxtown the last few days while Celtic were on Europa League duty in the Czech Republic.
“It has been going on years, there has always been links here, talks of loans that didn’t come about but the past two or three weeks have been go, go, go.
“So it has been a long time coming and I am delighted to be here.
“Now I need to make sure I get working hard and get ready for whenever the manager calls upon me.
“I have been training at Lennoxtown with a couple of the lads who have been in there and it is down to the manager now.
“I will meet the rest of the team tomorrow. They have been away in the Czech Republic so I look forward to seeing them.
“Everyone has always known how much the club means to me.
“I was training here at 13/14, only for a month or two and I played a couple of games.
“It wasn’t to be at that time and I went on to Hamilton and made my debut there.
“I always backed myself and thankfully the day has come and it doesn’t get much bigger than coming back to your boyhood club.
“I know what this club us all about and I am really looking forward to getting started and when called upon I will be ready.”
There have been question marks over McCarthy’s fitness in recent years – there were hamstring problems before he broke his leg playing for Everton in January, 2018 – but he is confident the worst is behind him.
He said: “The injuries haven’t been as bad in the last couple of seasons.
“I think it was more when I broke my leg.
“The season before last I was involved in 33/34 games and last season I had a couple of small niggles but not anything serious so physically I feel good.”