CELTIC have received a Champions League boost with the news Cluj’s Argentinian star man Emmanuel Culio is OUTof Wednesday’s first leg of the third round qualifier in Romania.
The influential midfielder was seen a key to the club’s progress by boss Dan Petrescu against Neil Lennon’s side in the crucial opening tie.
The former Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday defender, in a report in the Daily Record, admitted: “Culio is the best player in Cluj’s history. That’s my opinion.
“I am trying to take this team into the Champions League , but he’s told me he won’t be fit for the first leg against Celtic.
“And that’s an extraordinary loss for us.
“But we will do our best to make sure that won’t put us off. We are used to being the underdogs.
“This season in the Champions League, we have played against Astana, who have £30million more in budget than us.
“Then we played Macabbi Tel Aviv, who also have a bigger budget, next it’s Celtic and the same.
“But every time we have qualified against a team who have more value than us. Budgets don’t matter if you have a team full of spirit and who are organised.”
The former Romanian World Cup full-back added: “Maybe people don’t like my style, but it’s a style that gets wins.
“I don’t know Celtic at all, but they are a team I will study closely. For now I am concentrating on the weekend match against Chindia.
“But of course we are thinking about Celtic, too.”
Cluj struggled to overcome their Israeli opponents in the previous round while the Hoops eased past the Estonians Nomme Kalju on a 7-0 aggregate.
Petrescu’s outfit won 1-0 on their own ground in the first leg and managed to scramble a 2-2 draw in Tel Aviv to earn the right to face the eight-in-a-row champions.
The Parkhead men go into the midweek tie with a 100 per cent record on their European adventure, scoring 12 goals and conceding only two. New Bhoy Marian Shved brought the curtain down on the scoring in Talinn with a brilliant left-foot 18-yard drive for his debut strike.