Collins: Hard work will boost Celtic for Euro test

THEY train how they play and play how they train.

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John Collins discusses tactics with Kris Commons and Scott Brown during a training session in Austria
John Collins discusses tactics with Kris Commons and Scott Brown during a training session in Austria

The clock is ticking for Celtic and the hard work is well underway to ensure a bright new era will not get off to a dark and disastrous start.

With a Champions League second qualifying round clash against KR Reykjavik looming large on the horizon, time is of the essence for new boss Ronny Deila and his squad.

A trip to Austria has given the Norwegian a chance to get his football philosophy across to his squad, and the players the opportunity to ensure they are as sharp as possible to face an Icelandic side well into their domestic season.

The Hoops have been putting in the hours on the continent and Deila's No.2 John Collins is confident the hard work will pay off.

"We want high-tempo training and high-tempo performances during the matches," the assistant manager said.

"The boys are working really hard. Every day that goes by they are getting sharper and fitter, and now we are looking forward to getting started with the games.

"Ronny has a very similar philosophy to me. When his teams lose possession, can we win it back straight away?

"We want to have the football most of the time so we want to keep possession, pass it well and be sharp and quick.

"As soon as we lose it, we want instant reactions from the players to win it back. That is what we have been working on.

"It is really hard work, it is intense but they are reacting well and every day that goes by they are getting better."

After spending a few days at their Lennoxtown base, the trip to Austria is the ideal way for Celtic to gear up for a few weeks that will shape their season as they look to emerge unscathed through the three Champions League rounds.

It gives Deila and Collins a more in-depth look at the squad of players they have inherited from Neil Lennon.

And the initial signs have been positive for the new Parkhead right-hand man.

Collins said: "I have been very impressed. There is a lot of talent and some good young players.

"The job for us now is to try to get them playing even better. They had a terrific season last year and hopefully we can have an even better season this year.

"Kris (Commons) and Scott (Brown) are the really experienced ones in the group and are leading by example.

"The young boys are watching and learning from them.

"We have got a terrific mix in the squad, a good mixture of 23 to 28-year-olds.

"Overall, I think there is a lot of quality."

Having put the players through their paces in training, a match against KR Krasnodar tomorrow is the next step in the learning process.

Celtic will also face Rapid Vienna, LSK Linz and Dukla Prague before their first competitive outing. The work has been arduous so far but it must pay dividends.

"It is important they have got energy in the muscles in their legs to perform in the game," Collins said.

"Today will be a lighter session. It won't be really light but it will be a lighter session so that when we wake up tomorrow morning the boys will be fresh and excited, and ready to put on a good performance against the Russians."

Football

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