By Will Butcher

Belgium international Dedryck Boyata is desperate to return to Celtic’s starting line-up in the near future.

The 25-year-old defender has been sidelined with injury after picking up a hamstring problem during the Hoops’ dramatic Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Rangers last season.

He then tore a muscle 10 days before joining Belgium at Euro 2016.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the former Manchester City star revealed that a return is on the horizon after playing 45 minutes against Inter Milan on Saturday but is aware that he must take it easy.

“I feel good but you don’t want to over-step it,” Boyata told Sky Sports. “I got 45 minutes on Saturday and we have to see how it goes in the following days and weeks.

“I just have to take things step by step. Of course, I want to be back on the pitch as quickly as possible.”

Boyata’s soon-to-be return to Brendan Rodgers’ side will come as a huge boost ahead of Celtic’s final Champions League qualifying round, as they face Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva for a place in the group stages among Europe’s elite.

Boyata, who has spent time on-loan with Bolton and FC Twente, is looking to the future despite a disappointing summer.

“I had to work hard and it was mentally tough for the people around me,” Boyata said. “It should have been the best two months of my life but it wasn’t.

“Now it’s about thinking of the future and I keep going.”

Celtic’s number 20 made 34 appearances for the Scottish Champions last term following his £1.5million move north, and established a reputation as somewhat of a goalscoring defender, finding the net six times in league and cup encounters.

In other Celtic team news, this new signing is desperate to live his lifelong dream and play in the Champions League like his idol Ronaldinho.