Belfast Telegraph

Beating Celtic could be bridge too far, admits Linfield captain Mulgrew

By Graham Luney

As a proud Rangers fan, Linfield skipper Jamie Mulgrew would love to bring Celtic crashing down to earth. Brendan Rodgers' Invincibles were unbeaten on the domestic front last season, coasting to a treble, and now they are hungry to make an impact in Europe but the Danske Bank Premiership champions stand in their way.

Celtic are firm favourites to progress to the third qualifying round of the Champions League but Linfield, led by captain marvel Mulgrew, are on a misison to show how strong a side they are.

When asked if he'd like to end Celtic's long unbeaten run, the midfielder accepted we were starting to drift into a fantasty football world.

"I think that's a near enough impossible task, to be honest," admitted Mulgrew who scooped the Player of the Year awards last season.

"We know it's going to be very difficult, but it's about us giving a good account of ourselves and the league.

"We all watched Celtic last season and we know how dominant they were.

"They have aspirations of getting past the group stages, so that's how far ahead they are thinking, and rightly so the quality they have in their squad.

"Celtic came up against a lot of good teams last year and put them to the sword very comfortably.

"We know it will be vital to start well, to get a foothold in the game and gain confidence. We will want touches on the ball and then become more settled.

"But if you concede an early goal you can become fearful of what lies ahead."

The big positive from a Linfield perspective is the club is still on a massive high after winning a treble last season.

Their Irish Cup Final victory over Coleraine was impressive but beating Celtic at Windsor Park is a different ball game.

The players, however, know there is more than a Champions League third qualifying round place at stake.

"We've a lot of experienced guys in our changing room and after the success of last season we are in good form," added Mulgrew. "Winning trophies has helped but we know this is a massive game for everyone.

"Our changing room is always a wee bit lively. Obviously the Celtic fans in there are smiling a wee bit more now than the likes of myself at the minute.

"It's really good, friendly banter but the Celtic fans will be no different to myself come kick-off. We all want to do Linfield proud."

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