Jeremy Toljan believes player concerns over plastic pitches should be heard

Celtic new boy Jeremy Toljan insists Scottish football needs to listen to player complaints over plastic pitches.

The on-loan Borussia Dortmund full-back is set to get his first taste of action on Kilmarnock’s artificial surface on Sunday when the Hoops head to Rugby Park.

But Toljan admits he is stunned that the kind of synthetic turfs on show in Ayrshire as well as at Hamilton and Livingston are allowed in Scotland’s top-flight.

The Parkhead first-team have joined with players from the eight other Ladbrokes Premiership clubs who play their home games on grass to sign a PFA Scotland petition demanding artificial turf is outlawed in the top flight.

However, the likes of Accies vice-chairman Les Gray and Livi boss Gary Holt have already been quick to dismiss the players’ grumbles by insisting plastic is here to stay.

But Toljan says those putting their bodies on the line must have their voices heard.

“I haven’t heard much about the pitch. We only started focusing on the Kilmarnock game after Thursday night’s Valencia match,” he said.

“I’ve played on astro before, so it’s nothing new for me.

“But in Germany we don’t play on these kind of pitches and I think it’s better if we play on natural grass.

“For me it’s better. It’s better for the players’ bodies and the quality of the game is better on normal grass.

“I’m a bit surprised to see so many clubs use the astro in Scotland because I think we have the conditions to have real grass here, so we could change that easy.

“Football is a player’s game so if the players says it’s better to play on grass pitches then we should do it.”

Toljan has settled quickly into life under Brendan Rodgers after arriving late in the transfer window on a deal until the end of the season.

He has already edged Swede Mikael Lustig out of the the Northern Irishman’s line-up and was one of the few men in green and white to escape Thursday’s chastening 2-0 Europa League defeat to Valencia with praise.

But while many among the Parkhead faithful are already hoping an agreement can be struck with Dortmund – where Toljan has featured just once this term – to extend his stay in Scotland, the former Hoffenheim youngster is not looking too far ahead just yet.

The 24-year-old said: “I’m here and focused on playing right now. I’m not thinking about the future.

“I like it here. I’m playing at the moment so I’m happy. It was a difficult time for me at Dortmund but now I’m playing, so I’m just looking forward.

“I cannot talk about (what happens at the end of the season) as I have three more years on my Dortmund contract.

“The atmosphere here is crazy but the atmosphere in Dortmund is also very good, so we’ll see. The atmospheres are different but both very good, very supportive and loud.

“It was a disappoint result on Thursday. To lose 2-0 at home is a bad result for us.

“But it hasn’t spoiled the mood for me. We cannot win every game and Valencia are a good side. I don’t know much about Kilmarnock right now but hopefully we can respond positively on Sunday.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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