Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Jullien poised to make Celtic debut in Champions League qualifier

Lennon says powerful defender will get game time in Tallinn.

Christopher Jullien is set for his Celtic debut (Ian Rutherford/PA)
Christopher Jullien is set for his Celtic debut (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon will hand new signing Christopher Jullien his eagerly-awaited debut against Nomme Kalju on Tuesday night.

The Hoops face the Estonian champions in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier holding a healthy 5-0 advantage from their first meeting last week.

Powerful defender Jullien has been building up his match fitness since his £7million switch from Toulouse and Lennon is ready to unleash him in Tallinn.

“Jullien needs some game time so he will start,” said Lennon. “There’s a few players we want to get up to match sharpness.

“He’s been patient, he’s worked very hard, he’s had a couple of bounce games and he’s ready to play now.”

Lennon revealed Callum McGregor and James Forrest have not travelled in order to give them a rest ahead of Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership opener against St Johnstone.

bpanews_d20b6ed3-177c-41b4-9638-fff2583dacea_embedded240186853
James Forrest (left) and Callum McGregor have not travelled to Estonia (Jane Barlow/PA)

“We’re going to rest McGregor and Forrest and they haven’t travelled. It’s a good opportunity to give them a bit of a rest,” said Lennon.

“In terms of injuries, Marian Shved is back in the squad but (Vakoun) Bayo and (Eboue) Kouassi are still a little bit away.”

Ryan Christie could also be rested but three goals in as many matches so far in Europe have seen him earmarked as a key player this season.

bpanews_d20b6ed3-177c-41b4-9638-fff2583dacea_embedded244291272
Ryan Christie has impressed Lennon recently (PA)

“Ryan Christie has had a great couple of games,” said Lennon. “I thought he was fantastic in his all-round game and is weighing in with goals now.

“Getting goals from attacking midfield is important and is something we’re looking to improve on as the season goes on.”

Despite Celtic being all but certain of a place in the third qualifying round, and a tie with either Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv or Cluj of Romania, Lennon has demanded another professional performance.

Most people will see Celtic's qualification as a foregone conclusion but we have to be as professional as we can Neil Lennon

“Obviously we are in a very strong position but it’s a game we want to win,” he added.

“We’ll change a few of the players but we’re here to win the tie and keep the momentum going, with the league campaign starting on Saturday.

“Complacency is your enemy in a situation like this. Most people will see Celtic’s qualification as a foregone conclusion but we have to be as professional as we can.

“It’s important to come here, compete and try to win the game. These are difficult ties in the Champions League and we must prepare the team as best as we can.”

Roman Kozhukhovskyi hopes his side can correct the errors made in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Kalju may face a thankless task but the match, moved to the 14,400-capacity A. Le Coq Arena, is still a huge occasion for the hosts.

Coach Roman Kozhukhovskyi said: “We are very much looking forward to the game and will go into it with maximum effort.

“It has been a very busy week with a lot of analysing the mistakes we made in Glasgow and trying to eliminate them in Tallinn. It’s a big game and no one needs extra motivation.”

Captain Maximiliano Ugge smiled as he added: “This is football, anything can happen.

“We know that scoring five goals is certainly not easy, but we’ll do our best.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph