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Celtic v Lincoln Red Imps: Brendan Rodgers puts Bhoys on Red alert

Brendan warns patience a virtue against little Imps

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 20/07/2016

On the front foot: Brendan Rodgers urges his Celtic side to a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in the Parkhead friendly at the weekend
On the front foot: Brendan Rodgers urges his Celtic side to a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in the Parkhead friendly at the weekend

Boss Brendan Rodgers is confident Celtic fans will have the patience that might be needed to get past Lincoln Red Imps in their Champions League qualifier at Parkhead.

The Hoops are surprisingly trailing 1-0 to the part-timers after last week's shock defeat in the first leg of the second round in Gibraltar.

Ulsterman Rodgers expects Lincoln to pack their defence again and believes players and supporters may have to wait for a breakthrough.

However, he is confident that understanding in the stands will not be an issue.

The former Liverpool boss said: "The message to the players is similar to the supporters, it is that first 20 minutes if we don't score a goal then you have to be patient and for that you need the support.

"But thankfully, I understand the Celtic supporters, they understand the game, they know football and patience is something they have been accustomed to. You can be an attacking team but there are times when the ball can't go forward, it has to be circulated.

"Our team will always be set up to create and score goals but if it doesn't come the message is, they just have to be patient because you might take one hour or 70 minutes in any game before you break a team down and then you can score two, three, four, five goals in the last 20 minutes.

"So if the game is needing the patience then I am sure the Celtic supporters will support the team."

Rodgers revealed that defender Erik Sviatchenko "is fine" after being taken off with a head knock in the first half of the 2-1 friendly win against Wolfsburg on Saturday although midfielders Nir Bitton (hip flexor) and Stefan Johansen (ankle) are "probably unavailable".

Rodgers has been linked with Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan and Blackburn defender Shane Duffy.

The Hoops boss said: "There are a couple of players that we are looking at but we will see how that develops over the coming days."

Striker Leigh Griffiths, however, insists there is enough quality in the squad to get into the Champions League.

Griffiths has "no doubt" that the Scottish champions will get past Lincoln and he is confident of advancing through another two qualifying rounds and into the group stages.

He said: "The manager will still have players in mind that he wants to come in and add to the squad.

"But I've got no doubt in my mind that this group of players in the changing room will get us through to the Champions League group stages."

The Scotland international believes an early goal in front of what will be a huge crowd at Parkhead will put the Gibraltarian side on the back foot.

He said: "It's just about being professional. If we get that early goal then I think that will scare the other team and the crowd will get right behind us.

"The manager called for calmness after the first game. It's a two-legged tie and we know it's only half-time in the tie so we've got a great chance of going through with the full crowd behind us at Celtic Park.

"Obviously you don't want to get beat especially away from home but it happened. We need to move on and rectify the result and go through."

Griffiths, who scored 40 goals last season, was shunted wide on the right in Gibraltar to accommodate new signing Moussa Dembele but he insists he is still a "striker at heart".

The former Wolves player said: "With Moussa up there it gives me a bit more freedom to go and express myself. But ultimately I'm still a striker at heart."

Celtic - Lincoln Red Imps

2nd Qualifying Rnd, 2nd leg (Agg 0-1): Parkhead, Tonight, 7.45pm

Belfast Telegraph

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