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John Collins admits Celtic are facing a bumpy ride

By Staff Reporter

Celtic assistant manager John Collins has dismissed suggestions that their Champions League qualifier in Azerbaijan is in doubt but confirmed Qarabag's pitch is in a poor state.

A bumpy and barren surface awaits Celtic at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku tomorrow (5.30pm BST) when Ronny Deila's men defend their 1-0 lead in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Following reports from Celtic's security staff, Collins is not concerned about the game being postponed, but he admits the pitch might force them to change tactics.

Collins said: "There's a little concern at the moment but we will go over there and train on it and check how it is.

"Security are over there and they say it's not looking good.

"I don't think that the game's going to be in doubt but the pitch is not in a good state.

"They have had extremely warm temperatures. I don't know if the grass has some kind of disease in it or something, but it doesn't look good apparently.

"At this level you expect the pitch to be of a good standard, but if it isn't we will just have to adapt our play. If it is bumpy we will have to be a little bit more direct and not pass the ball in our own half."

Leigh Griffiths and Nir Bitton have both travelled but Charlie Mulgrew will miss out with a knee injury.

Griffiths came off early with a calf knock in Celtic's Ladbrokes Premiership opener against Ross County on Saturday after opening the scoring in the 2-0 victory, while Bitton sat out the game because of an ankle complaint.

"Both are still carrying knocks," Collins said. "Leigh didn't train today, he was on the bike, and Nir is the same, but they will be fine for tomorrow's training. We expect them both to be available."

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