BY DARREN JOHNSTONE @CCP_Sport
Celtic striker Carlton Cole admits he is thrilled to be back playing footballing following a six-month absence, but has joked that he will offer ‘presence’ rather than goals.
The seven-times capped England internationalist made his Hoops debut in Sunday’s 3-1 victory at Inverness after climbing off the bench in the 61st minute.
And the 32-year-old, who joined last month after leaving West Ham in the summer, was involved in a scrambled third goal that was credited to Caley defender Danny Devine, even though the forward appeared to accidentally strike the ball with his hand.
However, as the 6ft 3in marksman attempts to regain his match fitness, Cole has told his team-mates not to expect an immediate flurry of goals from him.
He said: “I don’t even know if it was my goal, it was all a blur.
“I don’t think I got the last touch but it was my presence in the box.
“I said to the lads before the game that it’s all I’m going to be bringing at the moment, it’s my first game since May 24 away to Newcastle with West Ham.
“I was just happy to get back on the park, help the team and be a presence, and it was good to get a victory.
“I’ve scored a goal like that once before and I didn’t claim that and I’m not claiming this one.”
Cole partnered Leigh Griffiths in attack for the final half-hour but insists he does not have a preference on who should play up front.
He added: “It’s up to the manager (Ronny Deila), the manager is in the driving seat.
“Obviously we just want to play, whether it’s Leigh or me – as long as it helps the team to victory it does not matter.
“I am just happy to be back involved, the lads dug in and showed great character especially after the last game and result.”
Griffiths, meanwhile, admits his close range strike against Caley took away some of the disappointment of missing crucial chances in last Thursday’s painful 2-1 Europa League defeat to Ajax.
The Scotland internationalist added: “I think I took a lot of frustration out in that celebration, I was disappointing on Thursday night but I managed to put one away and I was delighted to help the team get three points.
“It was massive, Thursday night was very disappointing for everyone involved in the club.
“Inverness is a difficult place to come and that’s been proved over the season, you don’t get easy points here but I think our quality shone through.”