Celtic good to go Slo to Maribor

CELTIC are today pressing ahead with their plans to travel to Slovenia for next week's Champions League play-off tie with NK Maribor.

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Ronny Deila is pushing ahead with plans for Slovenia
Ronny Deila is pushing ahead with plans for Slovenia

That's despite Legia Warsaw pushing for a fast-track hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

It is the Polish club's last chance of reinstatement to the competition after Uefa threw out their appeal against the decision to forfeit their tie against Celtic in the third qualifying round.

CAS have indicated they could hold a hearing as early as Monday at which they could issue an interim judgment to allow for provisional measures.

If they find Legia have a case, they could order they are allowed back in to the Champions League play-offs.

With the first leg of Celtic's tie against Maribor scheduled for Wednesday, and the squad set to fly to Slovenia on Tuesday morning, it would create massive problems for the Hoops and their fans. But because of the time restraints, and in the belief Legia's case will fall, Celtic are pressing ahead with their arrangements.

NK Maribor are selling tickets for the match for which Efe Ambrose will still be suspended, and Celtic have announced the return a week on Tuesday will be free to season-ticket holders.

Ronny Deila is confident he can protect his players from any fall-out and after tomorrow's game against Dundee United will begin briefing them on Maribor's strengths and weaknesses.

The Norwegian has already warned the team that has matched Celtic in winning their national championship for the past three years will be every bit as tough a nut to crack as Legia, who defeated the Hoops 6-1 on aggregate before their rule-breaking was punished by Uefa.

"Maribor are a good team, well organised," said Deila of the side that got through to the play-off round by beating Srinjski and Macabbi Tel Aviv.

"They are compact and good on the counter attack, and they have some good players. We know what we're going to meet, and we have to get up to the level in our performances now."

Deila accepts that he and his players are fortunate to have a second chance to get into the group stage of the Champions League.

They shocked him by the level of their performance in Warsaw, where they crashed 4-1, and he warned: "We have to step up a level.

"But we are now two or three weeks further on and we're back at Celtic Park.

"We also have got players in, and I am looking forward first to the game against Dundee United."

Deila hopes James Forrest can be a big player for the club against Maribor. He is fully aware of the 23-year-old's fragile frame, but believes that, handled properly, he can bring much, much more to the team.

Deila said: "With the individual quality he has, Jamesie can be a top, top player. But he's not even near to being a top, top player right now because of his physical shape.

"If you're going to play in Europe, you have to be (working) defensively and offensively all the time.

"You also have to do it in training. If you do that, the potential he has is fantastic."

Football

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