It’s win or bust for Bhoys in ‘cup final’
Celtic manager Neil Lennon will have his side geared up for a “cup final” tonight when they take on Udinese in their crunch Europa League Group I clash in Italy.
Celtic have to win to reach the knock-out stages of the tournament, but face a side three points better off in the group and only behind Juventus on goal difference at the top of Serie A.
Moreover, the Hoops have won only once in 32 games on the road in Europe, a fact Lennon acknowledged at the pre-match press conference at the Stadio Friuli.
“It is a daunting proposition for any team to come here, but in that respect we know what we have to do,” Lennon said.
“We are in good form, off the back of six wins in the league and confidence is good.
“Each of the Europa games has been a natural progression, it is a young team who are learning all the time and we will treat it like a cup final.
“It is a great incentive and one that we are all looking forward to.
“Going into the campaign a lot of people would have made us the whipping boys but we are very pleased with the way the team have played in the previous five games. To say that we are in with a chance of qualifying going into the last game is testament to the players and we are going to give it everything we have got tomorrow night.
“There is pressure in every game that Celtic are involved in and it will be no different.
“We will probably go into the game as underdogs I would imagine but there will still be an expectation from our supporters to get a favourable result.
“Our record away from home has been a bugbear and there is no better time than to break it tomorrow night.”
Glenn Loovens did not travel with the team after sustaining a hamstring injury against Hearts on Saturday, but Lennon is confident he has the strength in depth to cope with the loss of the Dutch defender.
“Kris Commons, Mark Wilson, Adam Matthews and Joe Ledley are all out of the squad,” the former Celtic skipper said.
“It is a blow to us (to lose Glenn), he has been playing very well.
“Kelvin Wilson is fit and will be in contention. We also have options with Charlie Mulgrew and Victor Wanyama, so we are all right for cover.”