Collins warns Celtic to be up to speed for Euro assault

JOHN Collins today warned Celtic's players to become a rapid response unit - and fast-track their passage into the Champions League group stage.

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Ronny Deila with new assistant John Collins
Ronny Deila with new assistant John Collins

The Parkhead club will find out on Monday who they face in their first European qualifier.

And Collins, officially unveiled yesterday as Ronny Deila's new No.2, insisted the players will need to be up to speed to overcome any potential banana skins. The assistant manager said: "We have to hit the ground running. We will be going right into high-pressure games and we must win them to get into the group stages of the competition.

"It is a challenge, but it is one that we are up for."

Collins will start his new role when the players return to training next week.

The 58-times capped Scotland midfielder is delighted to be back at the club he represented with distinction as a player during the 1990s.

But the former Hibs and Charleroi boss knows there will be no place for sentiment in his role, with Europe already on the horizon.

Celtic will have to get through three double-headers - the second and third qualifying rounds and the play-off - to book a lucrative spot in the tournament proper.

However, Collins, who played in the semi-final of the Champions League with Monaco in 1998, is looking forward to the challenge.

He said: "I am delighted to be back here. There is a fantastic training ground and a fantastic stadium. There are also very good players.

"I know what it is like to play for Celtic and hopefully I can bring some knowledge to the role and help the players do well."

Collins, who had been working with the Scotland Under-19 side before he was appointed, revealed he clicked with Norwegian coach Deila the moment they met.

And the 46-year-old anticipates having a productive working relationship with the former Stromsgodset coach.

He said: "Ronny and I first met a couple of weeks ago when we had a long chat. Then we met up and had dinner.

"We didn't stop talking about football during that time. We agreed about the same systems and methods.

"We have a very similar philosophy about football. I think that is very important. Ronny thinks about the game the same way as myself.

"I won't be picking the team. That will be the manager's job. I will be working hard on the training pitch.

"I am sure the manager will ask for my opinion on things every day and every week. But ultimately the big decisions will be his to make."

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