EXCLUSIVE: Bhoys won't crumble says Forster

NO PANIC – just positivity.

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The Celtic keeper remains positive about chances of progression
The Celtic keeper remains positive about chances of progression

That is the cry coming from Celtic Park as pressure to grab a Champions League last 16 spot mounts.

The Lisbon loss on Tuesday means the first opportunity to qualify for the knockout stage has been missed.

Now Benfica have it to lose, if they fare worse than Celtic on the final day of Group G on December 5 when the Portuguese side go to Barcelona and Spartak come to Parkhead.

Neil Lennon believes his men let nerves get to them in Lisbon.

But keeper Fraser Forster, who turned in yet another fine display in Portugal, believes the Hoops can hold their nerve in the final group game to make sure they do their bit in the hope Barcelona lend a hand.

Forster said: "We have got fantastic mental strength, so we are looking forward to the night. Everyone is enjoying the challenge of trying to qualify and we will give it our usual 100%.

"I am sure that, with the Celtic support behind us, this will give us a chance."

Without the suspended Victor Wanyama and the injured Scott Brown for the Spartak match, Celtic are going to have to do it the hard way if they want to join Barcelona in the last 16.

But Forster put their situation in perspective when he said: "People would have snapped your hand off for us to be in this position going into the last game of the group.

"So we just need to be positive because it is important that we go out and play well.

"It will be a different game from the one we had against Barcelona, but it will be a very tough one.

"We have shown all the way through this season that there are plenty of positives about our team.

"Lisbon was always going to be a tough place to go. And while we were disappointed not to get the result we wanted, I think we have every reason to be positive when you consider what we have done already.

"We have a fantastic support going into this final game, and we will need the full force of the fans' backing to help us go through."

The danger is that, already eliminated from any further European football even before this match, Spartak will arrive in Glasgow with a care-free attitude, ready to spoil a Hoops party.

But, Lennon's men have already punched above their weight as a Pot 4 club by securing a Europa Cup spot, at the very least.

Asked if, nevertheless, it would be disappointing to enter the last 32 of that competition rather than the last 16 of the Champions League, Forster answered honestly: "Yes. Ideally, we want to go through in the Champions League.

"But there is no point in being negative about it – and we are not.

"We will go into the last game of the group just thinking about winning that match.

"Then, depending on the outcome of that, and Benfica's game in Barcelona, we will see what happens."


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