Collins wants Celtic to have capital gain in Euro tie

CELTIC fans have been urged to make BT Murrayfield a home from home when the Hoops make their debut at the national rugby stadium tomorrow night.

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John Collins is hoping for a large support to travel along the M8
John Collins is hoping for a large support to travel along the M8

The rallying call comes from assistant boss John Collins, who believes the supporters will have a huge part to play in helping the players get past KR Reykjavik and into the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

The tie against the Icelandic side is more finely balanced than anyone in the Celtic camp would like. Callum McGregor's late goal in Reykjavik last week is all that is separating the sides.

The SPFL Premiership champions are very short odds-on to go through to meet either Legia Warsaw or St Pat's in the next round.

But with Celtic Park out of commission as it stages the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, the advantage the Hoops normally gain from playing at home can only be guaranteed if the fans make the effort to travel to Murrayfield.

The match is on the season book, so the 40,000-plus supporters who have purchased them are entitled to attend without paying anything extra.

Efforts have also been made to make the journey to Murrayfield as easy and inexpensive as possible.

Collins wants to see the 67,000-capacity stadium heaving with Hoops fans backing the Bhoys and said: "The players need an atmosphere and the fans pushing them on.

"Everyone knows how important the Celtic fans can be in vital games. They have carried us to many a victory down the years, so they will play an important part.

"But, of course, the players have to excite the fans. So we have to get off to a good start. The fans enjoy watching high-tempo, entertaining football."

Collins accepts it will be as unique an experience for the players as it will be for the supporters.

But he does not want the move along the M8 to be a concern to anyone. Rather, he would like it to be considered a fresh challenge.

"It's going to be a little bit different for the players," he explained.

"They are used to Celtic Park. But, what is important is that they have a brand new pitch at Murrayfield, so they are going to have a good playing surface. Really, for the players, that's the most important thing."

That grass and plastic hybrid surface cost £1.25million to lay, and the four-month replacement process has only just been completed.

But all reports are it will be perfect, and Collins does not expect any complaints.

"Obviously, we'd prefer to be at Celtic Park, but it is not the case," he said.

"Murrayfield is a big stadium, and I am sure the Celtic fans will go there and make a noise. It's a new venue. It's exciting. The most important thing is we get the result."

Ronny Deila's side continued to hone their match sharpness in a friendly against Dynamo Dresden on Saturday.

They drew 1-1 to extend the new manager's unbeaten run in his six matches in charge.

However, the scorer of the Hoops' goal in Germany, Kris Commons, had to limp off just before half-time after taking a heavy knock to his left thigh.

That was a scare for Deila, who, before a ball was kicked this summer, pinpointed Commons, skipper Scott Brown and vice captain Charlie Mulgrew as key figures in his side as they had the vital experience to help the team through the transition period which always marks a change at the top.

Brown is already out for three months with a hamstring tear.

But Deila reports Commons is expected to recover from his 'dead leg' in time to play tomorrow.

The manager will check on his condition today before the squad heads to Murrayfield to train this evening, and said: "Kris seemed to get a knee in his thigh and seems okay, but we'll see. When you play games, things will happen."

Deila will also assess how Craig Gordon came through his first action for over two years, the keeper pulling off some fine saves and keeping a clean sheet, Dresden's equaliser coming in the second half when Sylvano Comvalius got the ball past replacement shotstopper, Lukasz Zaluska, after Emilio Izaguirre had initially cleared a shot off the line.

The manager is happy there is now even greater competition for the No.1 spot and is confident every one of the 22 who played against Dresden - he switched the entire team at half-time - will benefit from the outing.

He said: "The boys worked hard and we got to see every player. That was positive and there were some good attacks as well. But we will show a lot more energy against KR Reykjavik."

Collins agrees, and believes the tough schedule of matches is paying dividends.

"The games are coming thick and fast but we knew that as soon we arrived," he told Celtic TV. "There's a lot of travelling, which is not so good for the players.

"We've got to manage that and make sure certain players get rested up. But it's exciting and players love playing games."

Collins added: "The fitness is coming, the sharpness is coming, so we are very pleased with the way it's going. There are lots of positives to take from the way pre-season has gone.

"We haven't lost, and each game that goes by, we get better. We got a good look at the young players as well as the experienced players, which is important for us.

"From every game we are looking for a good performance. We want short, sharp passing. We want to go forward at every opportunity, and we want to play entertaining football. But at the same time, we want to win."

Football

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