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Brendan Rodgers happy with Celtic as key European clash looms

By Paul Burrows

Brendan Rodgers is in confident mood on the eve of his first competitive match in charge of Celtic.

Following a two-week pre-season camp in Slovenia, the Hoops face Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar in the second qualifying round of the Champions League tomorrow night, with Rodgers pleased with his side's form going into the game.

"We have put in a lot of great work, not just on the field where the fitness has been developed throughout, but also in the tactical ideas we are trying to implement which I can see improving on a daily basis," he said.

"You get to see them more in a pressure situation but certainly over time, they're challenged in every aspect of the game - technically, tactically, physically and mentally.

"You get to see them operate under stress and with the conditions as well which are very hot and humid, so there are a lot of stresses put on the players. But they have coped excellently and their willingness and attitude to be better players has been very clear to me.

"It's still going to take time for it to be fully integrated but we have been able to set some standards off the field as well, establishing as a team our goals that we want to achieve for the season and our values as a team, the real true values of how we want to work.

"So we have had that, along with lots of analysis, preparation and time together, getting to know characters and their behaviour."

Celtic drew 2-2 with NK Celje and defeated Sturm Graz and Olimpija Ljubljana 1-0 and 2-1 respectively ahead of Saturday's scoreless stalemate with Maribor.

"I have really enjoyed working with all the players and getting to see them," added Rodgers. "Some I knew, like Scott Brown along with a few of the international boys, but others I didn't have a great idea of and it's been really good to look at them really closely and see how they are working."

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