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Celtic v Ajax: Ronny Deila gives depleted Celts a vote of confidence

By Ronnie Esplin

Ronny Deila insists a decimated midfield has not left him fearful ahead of Celtic's crunch Europa League clash with Ajax at Parkhead tonight.

At the pre-match press conference, the Hoops boss revealed that skipper Scott Brown could be out for up to three months with a knee injury picked up against Kilmarnock at the weekend.

The Scotland captain, who had a scan on Monday, was back against Killie after missing four matches with a knee injury, but Deila confirmed he has suffered a different complaint.

Kris Commons is still likely to be out with a combination of illness and a hamstring injury, while fellow midfielders Nir Bitton and Stefan Johansen are suspended for a match when defeat will end any hope of progressing from Group A.

One piece of good news for the Scottish champions is that Charlie Mulgrew, who can play midfield or defence, is back in contention after recovering from a thigh injury, but he has not played since September.

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"Scott Brown is out for a while," Deila said. "We don't know for sure yet but I heard it's eight to 12 weeks. It is nothing to do with the previous one. It was very unfortunate in a challenge near the end of the game.

"We hope that (an operation) is not necessary. We are waiting for the experts to look at the pictures so we can be even more sure what to do, if it is going to need an operation or not.

"It is always tough to lose your captain but, having said that, in the last period he was out we won a lot of games.

"Kris has been a little bit sick but he had the injury after the Molde game. It is likely it will be a little too early. He trained today but was not feeling his best.

"I am not fearing anything but of course there is going to be big changes in the midfield.

"We have to put together a new one but we have a lot of good players and we are going to have a good team.

"Of course it is more tricky, a lot of the experience is out but again we have players who can fill those roles."

Meanwhile, Deila has thrown his weight behind the idea of Celtic playing in the United States.

While the Hoops boss was preparing for the crunch clash with Ajax, Dundee confirmed they are in discussions with the Parkhead club about the possibility of playing a Scottish Premiership fixture Stateside.

While the proposal is still a long way from coming to fruition, Deila expressed his general support.

The Norwegian said: "I don't know the details, but it is a positive thing in my mind.

"We have lots of fans in the United States and to get over there and show ourselves and promote the Scottish game is very good.

"It is a special league. There has been an unbelievable history here and I think it is important to keep that memory alive and go out and see other countries. It has to, of course, suit our programme."

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths described the proposal as "exciting", saying: "If we get the chance to go there it will be a great opportunity.

"When you're going to America you're going to play in front of a massive crowd.

"We've got a worldwide fan base and I think the Celtic fans over there will turn out in their numbers."

Belfast Telegraph


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