By Tom Blackburn

Celtic star Erik Sviatchenko says Brendan Rodgers has increased the emphasis on fitness and discipline since his time at Celtic.

Despite Rodgers only being half-way through his first pre-season tour of Slovenia, the Danish centre-back says he is relishing his reign.

Talking to Celtic TV, Sviatchenko explained how the focus has been on fitness at the Scottish champions’ base in Maribor, with the manager determined to get the players fully prepared for the start of competitive football.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a new way of coaching I haven’t been used to but it’s really something I like and I’m looking forward to getting to know it even better. It’s how I want to play football and it’s just about getting that fitness so we can play that way.

“It’s more disciplined and much more aggressive and higher in the pitch and it’s all about the individual skills as well.

“The manager talks about the players needing to flourish and do their thing in the last third, while the defensive players have their focus on getting the ball as quickly as possible.”

Training has seen the Celtic players have double sessions in intense heat, while the extra time on the training field has been used by Rodgers to imprint his ideas and approach on to the players.

Sviatchenko arrived at Parkhead in January of this year for just over £2million, and went on to make 14 Scottish Premiership appearances as Celtic claimed their fifth consecutive title.

Next year sees the return of Rangers to the top flight and they are expected to pose an instant threat after four years in the wilderness.

In other Celtic news, they are closing in on the transfer of a midfielder if they improve their offer by £400,000.