Dedryck Boyata and his Celtic teammates will drag their weary limbs north to Pittodrie this evening as the champions round off a gruelling seven-day stretch with a top-of-the-table clash against Aberdeen, and he admits that he will have to dig deep for the cause having yet to reach full fitness since his recent return from injury.

But one thing that you won’t hear from Boyata is a word of complaint. It wasn’t so long ago that the giant Belgian international defender was slogging his way through individual workouts at Lennoxtown in the middle of the night in a bid to fight his way back into his manager’s plans after recovering from another injury setback.

“That’s impossible just now!” Boyata admits, with visits to Germany to take on Bayern Munich and an energy-sapping shift at Hampden in the Betfred Cup semi-final already behind him in the past week.

Read more: Dedryck Boyata says that Celtic will handle physical battle with Motherwell

Now, he is the last experienced centre-half standing for Celtic due to the injuries suffered by Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko, as he gears up for a return to a ground where he found the net on his last visit.

“It’s definitely a big contrast, it’s not the same right now for me. I’m playing every game and I’m still coming back from injury, so that means I still have a lot of work to do on the fitness side and it’s difficult to find the time to do the right rehab for the injury I had.

“I was going to the gym before because I wasn’t playing, today I’m playing so I’m very happy to be in this position. I’m training every day, but don’t get me wrong, if I feel it’s not possible I just have to say.

“We’re working with good physios and sports scientists, and they look at the results and the scores and if something seems wrong they will put us on the sidelines.

“I’m feeling pretty tired, it’s definitely been a hard week, especially playing three games in seven days. We’re fine though, we have another game and we’ll just prepare for that again.

Read more: Derek McInnes insists Aberdeen have no inferiority complex despite dire losing streak against undefeated Celtic

“With the situation we’re in with a lot of injuries, when it comes to managing myself, if the other centre-back had have been there then maybe it would have been different.

“But the manager has 100 percent faith in me, and he would never risk me. If he felt I wasn’t ready, he wouldn’t put me on the pitch.

“The adrenaline keeps you going in a way. When you play only one game a week, it can feel very long sometimes. When the next game is seven days away, it can seem far away.

“When you are playing every two or three days, you are always doing something and physically it isn’t the best, but we are working hard to stay on top of our game and being fit for every game.

“We went from Champions League to the semi-final and now we’re playing a team that have the same points as us, so it’s going to be tough.

“That’s why we’re here though. We’re here to play games and we have these big challenges, and we are up for it.”

Read more: Dedryck Boyata says that Celtic will handle physical battle with Motherwell

Boyata was partenered by midfielder Nir Bitton at the heart of the Celtic defence for Saturday’s match against Hibs, after playing alongside Mikael Lustig in the defeat in Munich. But the 26-year-old is enjoying having the onus to lead the backline thrust upon him.

“I’ve always been a defender who likes to take responsibility,” he said. “I talk a lot on the pitch and try to help my teammates and the people around me.

“In this position we’re in at the moment we are missing two of our experienced centre-backs and I’m the only one left, but Nir is doing well when he’s in and Mikael is doing well too.

“We’re helping each other. It’s not easy, but at the moment we are doing fine. For right now we have been shifting a lot. Maybe it’s not helping but that’s the situation we’re in. We’re fighting, we’re helping each other 100 per cent non-stop and we’re doing fine.”

Boyata hasn’t been surprised by the fine form Aberdeen have shown since the start of the season, despite Derek McInnes losing key players like Ryan Jack, Niall McGinn and of course, Jonny Hayes to Celtic in the summer.

Read more: Derek McInnes insists Aberdeen have no inferiority complex despite dire losing streak against undefeated Celtic

“We knew from the beginning they are not an easy team,” he said. “They have good quality players. They showed it last season and the season before.

“They lost Jonny but they have Ryan (Christie) and Gaz (McKay-Steven). They are very good players.

“Them being in this position is therefore not a surprise because they’ve shown this before. They are also playing very well.”

If Celtic’s unbeaten run of 60 domestic games is going to come under threat, a visit to Pittodrie seems like one of the most likely places for them to finally come unstuck.

Boyata hopes that a dodgy refereeing decision isn’t the thing that costs them, with a dubious penalty being awarded to Hibs on Saturday for Boyata’s clean-looking challenge on Martin Boyle.

Boyata was pleasantly surprised to be approached by the assistant referee after the game and be offered an apology, particularly after what he had been saying to him on the pitch when he awarded the decision.

“The linesman came and saw me in the changing room after the game and said ‘okay I just want to apologise and to say I made the wrong decision. I Just want to apologise’.

“So fair enough. I wasn’t expecting that. He doesn’t have to do it and just the fact he did I took it very well.

“I don’t think they have to do that. They can make a mistake but they don’t have to come and apologise to the players because, to be honest, after our third goal I didn’t go celebrate with my team-mates. I just pointed my finger in front of his face, which I wasn’t supposed to do! I have an angel face though!

“I was still angry and he still came and apologised. So fair enough, you know.

“It was right after the game. I was the last one in the changing room and he came and knocked the door to see me. I really appreciated it.”