CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has warned his team that their Champions League ambitions will be put to the test tonight in 'a dangerous game' against Cliftonville at Solitude.
Back home in Northern Ireland, Lennon has made it abundantly clear just how important it is to him and the club that Celtic once again qualify for the group stages of Europe's premier competition as they did last season, when they famously defeated Barcelona.
Lennon's men need to win three ties to have a chance to face the likes of Barca, Manchester United and Bayern Munich which would bring millions of pounds in revenue and prestige that the SPL, especially without Rangers, cannot compete with. The first obstacle in Celtic's path is Cliftonville, who host the Hoops this evening in the first leg of a Champions League qualifier (7.45pm) with the return at Parkhead next week.
"We are here to be professional," said the Lurgan native, who won 40 caps for Northern Ireland. "Yes, there is a very good relationship between Celtic and Cliftonville but this is the Champions League which is very important to us, the club, our players and their development. Once the first whistle blows we'll be trying to win the game as best we can.
"It's a dangerous game. This is a booby-trap of a game, so we have to be really at it in how we start the game."
Reds boss Tommy Breslin said: "I feel that any time we go out to play we can beat any team at any time and that's the same attitude we will send the players out with."
COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? firstname.lastname@example.org