No pitching over Murrayfield from Celtic skipper Mulgrew

CELTIC are pitch perfect as they sing the praises of the stadium they will make their own for the first time tonight.

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Charlie Mulgrew will take over as Celtic captain until the injured Scott Brown returns from his hamstring tear
Charlie Mulgrew will take over as Celtic captain until the injured Scott Brown returns from his hamstring tear

The Hoops are as one when faced with the prospect of playing a home game away from their Parkhead base.

And the smiles on the faces of manager Ronny Deila and skipper Charlie Mulgrew destroyed any hopes KR Reykjavik may have brought with them from Iceland that the venue switch would make it something of a level playing field tonight.

The new-look playing surface is immaculate, and Deila insisted there will be "no excuses" if his side fails to get past their part-time opponents.

Mulgrew - standing in for injured captain Scott Brown, as he did in Reykjavik last week - is in accord with his boss. And both men are looking forward to putting on a show on a wonderful stage this evening.

Mulgrew said: "It's a class stadium. The pitch is great, so we can't complain. Playing at Murrayfield hasn't unsettled us at all. Preparations have been perfect, and everything has gone very smoothly. So it's just another place to play. And it's a great place. It's magnificent."

Deila echoed that, claiming: "It's fantastic. It is a very good pitch. I don't think there will be any problem. The team will have the support, and that is important, and the pitch is perfect. So, no excuses."

How many Hoops fans make the journey to Murrayfield tonight is the one question left to be answered.

Deila hopes they will travel in large numbers, and Mulgrew has every faith they will.

"We hope to get as many fans as we can," said the Bhoy who moved from supporting the team to leading it into action. "We all know what the fans are like in the Champions League for us.

"Hopefully we can get them behind us, and, of course, they will help. These are the games you need to overcome, and the ties you need to overcome. That's what we will be looking to do."

Mulgrew is confident the fitness advantage Reykjavik had in the first leg - they are a dozen games into their season - will be significantly reduced this time around because everyone now has more game time in their legs and lungs.

He said: "We created chances in Iceland and, hopefully, we can do the same again and take them this time. Maybe the result should have been more convincing in the first leg, but it's early in the season and that bit of sharpness will come. There are just small things we need to work on."

As one of the most experienced players in the team, and the man wearing the armband, Mulgrew is happy to shoulder extra responsibility in this game.

He takes his duties seriously, and said: "It's a great confidence boost to be handed the armband after Scott got injured. He's a great captain, and it's good that the manager has come in and seen me as a captain, too.

"There is an added responsibility, but you just try to do things the way you normally do."

Mulgrew accepts he is only keeping the armband safe until Brown recovers from his hamstring tear.

"We are two different characters," he conceded. "We're different players - and you can tell me the difference. But, we are good friends off the pitch and, hopefully, some of what he does rubs off on me."

Football

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