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Ambrose: There's no time for rest

Celtic defender Efe Ambrose believes his apparent indefatigability can be explained in the most simple way - "because I am Efe."

Due in part to his international duties with Nigeria, the 25-year-old defender has had a hectic schedule since joining the Hoops in 2012 from Israeli club FC Ashdod, and he will be at the World Cup in Brazil this summer when the Parkhead players return for pre-season training.

While edging closer to securing their third successive title, which was achieved against Partick Thistle at Firhill last week, manager Neil Lennon confirmed he will again give his regular starters a holiday before the end of the season with a view to their early return for the Champions League qualifiers, which start in July.

However, Ambrose, speaking at Celtic Park where he was publicising a scheme to allow Hoops fans to buy personalised paving stones at the club's refurbished stadium entrance, does not want to take his boss up on the offer.

Asked why he did not need a rest, he smiled and replied: "Because I am Efe.

"I don't know (if I am different from the other players), I speak for myself.

"Next week there is no game so I can have days off but I don't need one week. It is too much for me.

"There is no time for rest. I don't think I need a week off. I always like to play, I don't think I need a break or a rest.

"I like playing football. I enjoy it. It is the first thing I think about.

"Sometimes the body needs a rest but I try not to in case I get used to it.

"I can't remember (when I last had a holiday) it has been so long.

"When you start playing in the national team you don't have a break.

"In the summer you are in the camp with the national team and before you know it you are back for pre-season training.

"It has been like that for the past four or five years. And when I go back home I do personal training so I can fit into the team when I come back."

While the rest of the Hoops players are looking forward to recharging the batteries before another tilt at the Champions League next season, Ambrose believes preparations for the qualifiers should already be under way.

He said: "We have to prepare for the Champions League from now.

"We have to work harder, train harder, because the Champions League qualifiers are not going to be easy for us.

"It has never been easy and qualifying for the group stages is the most important thing for us. So there is no time for a rest. If you don't prepare you will not be in the group stages."

The amiable African is looking forward to Nigeria's friendly against Scotland at Fulham's Craven Cottage on 28 May, which is part of the Super Eagles' preparations for Brazil.

He could come up against Celtic team mates Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths, but he declined to play the diplomatic card when asked his prediction.

"Can they beat us is the question, but I don't think so," he said. "We argue about it (in the dressing room) but I don't think so.

"It is going to be a tough game. Scotland are doing better, they have a good squad but we have a good squad too. I can't wait for it."

Ambrose was also at odds with his Israeli team-mate Beram Kayal, who this week criticised the technical standard of the game in Scotland as he appeared to prepare for his departure from the Parkhead club at the end of the season.

"That is Beram's opinion but the league is getting better day by day for me," he said.

"All around the world people know Celtic because we always play in the Champions League. So I don't see why the Scottish league is no good.

"For me it is a brilliant league and I am becoming a better player here, and they are helping me to become a better player than what I was when I was in Israel."

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