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Pressure is off Celtic but Ronny Deila calls for 'honour'

By Matt McGeehan

Ronny Deila claims his Celtic side are on an honour mission against Dinamo Zagreb in their final Europa League Group D game at the Stadion Maximir.

The Scottish champions are already through to the last 32 of the competition as runners-up to section winners Salzburg.

Skipper Scott Brown did not travel with the squad as he is on a yellow card while winger James Forrest was also left behind to work on his fitness.

The Hoops boss, however, insists he is not taking tonight's game lightly and claims he cannot relax and enjoy what is, for the Parkhead club, a relatively pressure-free fixture.

Speaking at Dinamo's ground before Celtic trained yesterday, Deila said: "I can't enjoy it because it is a new game and you want to win because you fight for honour in every game.

"It would be different if there was more pressure on us, it would be even harder if we had to win.

"But we want to have a good performance. I hate playing bad football games.

"So we have prepared as usual for this game and it is a good game for us to show how good we have been.

"It is also an important match because if we get three points we have a better chance of being seeded next season in the Champions League, hopefully, and we also have an opportunity to develop ourselves."

The draw for the next two rounds of the tournament will be made next week.

Deila is mindful of the struggle to beat Dinamo 1-0 at Parkhead in October and admits Celtic have to improve regardless of whom they face when the competition resumes in February.

"It is going to be exciting but for me the most important thing is to win and get through," said the former Stromsgodset boss.

"We have to be at a higher level in February because we are going to meet a very good opponent no matter who we draw.

"We are not at that level now but we have two months to prepare for that.

"And we are closer now than we were two months ago.

"We have to use every game to learn. Zagreb are a very good team and created chances against us at Celtic Park in a very close game."

Deila is also hoping the draw will allow him to enjoy the sights and sounds of a full Celtic Park, something he has been unable to do since he took over from Neil Lennon in the summer.

"We want 60,000 at Celtic Park, that is our ambition," he said.

"I hope we can play well until that game so everybody is really looking forward to it and we can play in a full stadium."

Cliftonville have confirmed the signing of striker James McCarron.

The former Donegal Celtic frontman was out of contract at Finn Harps so Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin was able to secure the player without having to pay a fee.

McCarron will not be able to begin his Cliftonville career until January. Writing on his Facebook page, McCarron said that he was "delighted" to have signed for the Solitude side.

"January can't come quick enough," said McCarron.

The Reds have also been linked with a move for Coleraine's Ruairi Harkin.

Belfast Telegraph


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