HAD things gone differently just 16 months ago Ryan Christie would have had a working relationship rather than just a professional respect for Hibs manager Jack Ross.

The final day of the transfer window at Lennoxtown in August 2018 was dominated with the saga of Moussa Dembele with the striker ordered off the training pitch by Brendan Rodgers following an acrimonious exchange and a social media pantomime as he engineered a way out of the club to Lyon in the final hours of the market.

Amidst the background noise, what Christie heard was that he had a future at Celtic.

Wanted by Neil Lennon at Hibs if John McGinn was going to Parkhead and wanted by Ross, then at Sunderland, Christie spent the last few weeks of that window wondering where his next step would be. Had things panned out differently, it would not have been to become pivotal the way that Celtic play.

"It's strange when I look back at last summer and think of how different it could have all gone,” said Christie, who has become crucial for both club and country. “At the start, there was talk of me joining Aberdeen on a permanent deal, and if McGinn had gone to Celtic there was talk of me going the other way. And there was the Sunderland talk as well.

"It went right down to deadline day when I was told to stay here and fight for my place. It's strange how it all works out but I'm pretty delighted with how it panned out.

"It was pretty up and down. I came into training not knowing what would happen. The English window closed earlier than ours, so I was told if it was Sunderland I'd have to get off the training pitch and jump in a car.

"It was pretty mad that day. Brendan sat me down and I think Moussa was leaving. He just said I'd be needed here and that all other interest was off.

"I felt frustrated and at that point I was thinking it was maybe time for a fresh start somewhere else. But after the manager told me I still had a fighting chance to prove myself, that was all I needed to know because I was still desperate to show my worth to Celtic.

"As soon as the deadline day finished, it was no longer an option I just tried my hardest to break into the team. I never gave up hope on that. I played a game at Kilmarnock away and got beat 2-1. I was frustrated I hadn't really taken my chance but the Murrayfield game came along and it will always be a game I'll remember for the rest of my career."

Scott Allan, whom Christie will come up against on Sunday did not get the same happy ending. The midfielder has impressed at Easter Road since his permanent return to Hibs but he and Christie shared the same frustrations as they toiled to make an impact at first-team level under Rodgers.

"Scotty was very unfortunate,” said Christie. “He was in a similar boat to me, trying make our way at the club in the first Treble season when the team was doing incredibly well. It was very difficult to get into that side.

"I trained with Scotty often enough to see how good a player he is and it is nice to see him showing that now at Hibs. He's getting that run of games and run of form and has got some of the best assists I've seen this season. He's one of many Hibs players we'll have to watch out for.

"It definitely helps when you're going through the same kind of conditions. You know how frustrating it is for one another.”

Ross has had an immediate response since his arrival in Leith with three wins in five games.

"I'm a big fan of Jack Ross,”said Christie. “He did unbelievably well at St Mirren and was a bit unfortunate down at Sunderland. But he's come in and steadied the Hibs ship a little bit and will get them progressing again. That's something you expect from Hibs because they are such a big team in Scottish football. They'll definitely come here and play with an intent to take points off us, so we need to be wary as they are a good side."

“I've spoken to a few boys who have played under him and they all rave about his training and the way he wants to play. Right at the start of last season there was talk of me joining him at Sunderland. I knew Lewis Morgan from here and he was raving about him from his time at St Mirren. It was certainly an option I was looking at but it never got to the point where I had a conversation with him but with the way it finished for him at Sunderland, he was a bit unlucky at that club."