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Deila wants to avoid big guns in Europa draw

By Ronnie Esplin

Ronny Deila wants the "easiest" Europa League opponents possible for Celtic when the draw for the last 32 is made next month.

The Hoops qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament on Thursday night despite a 3-1 defeat to Salzburg at Parkhead.

The Austrian outfit, the first from the country ever to win on Scottish soil, clinched top place in Group D but with only a trip to Dinamo Zagreb remaining, Celtic cannot be caught for second place.

The Hoops could be drawn against Everton or Tottenham - if Spurs end up top of their group - or face one of the top clubs who drop down from the Champions League which would ensure a full house at Celtic Park.

However, Deila wants a better possibility of progress rather than a glamour tie when the Scottish champions go into the hat in Nyon on December 15.

Ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow, the Celtic boss said: "We want the easiest team so we can go through, that's what we want.

"We are not here for show-off games. "We want to go through the last 16, quarter-finals, and we are going to do everything to go through and we want a team that suits us best so we can go further.

"We have to take what is coming. There are a lot of good teams there and whoever we might get is going to be hard. We will be up for it."

While the Norwegian is keen to make his mark in Europe in his first season as Celtic manager, he starts each day thinking about the domestic treble.

"We have to think how we are going to achieve it and that starts every day in training, and in how we prepare for every game."

Hoops striker Leigh Griffiths, however, claimed the Scottish Premiership is not as good without Hearts, Rangers and Hibernian.

Three of Scotland's top clubs have found themselves in the Championship but the former Hibs striker misses them all.

"They're in that league for a reason but hopefully two of them come back up this season and it will be great for Scottish football," said Griffiths.

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