CELTIC star Ryan Christie is determined to show his quality among Europe’s big boys.
The midfielder, bought last summer for £500,000 from Inverness Caley Thistle, was in the starting line-up for the International Champions Cup game against Inter Milan in Limerick at the weekend.
Christie also got a taste of the action in the same tournament when he came on against Barcelona in Dublin at the end of last month.
The 21-year-old Highlander revelled in those surroundings and is hoping Brendan Rodgers’ side make no mistake when they take on Hapoel Be’er-Sheva at Parkhead in the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie tomorrow night to take a comfortable lead to Israel for the return next week.
He said: “I enjoyed playing against Inter and Barcelona. In those kinds of games you get the opportunity to learn so much against very good players.
“That will take on our game leaps and bounds. Playing against that calibre of teams and in big stadiums – these are the games that you want to be a part of.
“That feeling will only rise if we end up playing against them in the group stage of the Champions League. That’s the incentive for us all.
“We want to have matches of that magnitude right through the season. Wednesday is a huge game for the club.”
Christie added: “Everyone who was playing on Saturday night was trying to prove a point that we can definitely play a part against Hapoel.
“It almost felt like an audition with everyone trying to catch the eye of the manager to try to improve their chances of playing tomorrow.
“A lot of boys were rested at the weekend, but those who played, hopefully, showed they are good enough to play a part in the Champions League.
“The manager made a lot of changes to our team, but I’d say that shows the strength in depth we have this season. We were beaten 2-0, but I think that flattered Inter with us losing a cheap goal right on half-time and then they were so deadly on the counter for their second.
“But, apart from that, I felt we kept the ball really well. To come up against a team like Inter and more than hold our own shows what we are capable of.
“We’re a lot more street-smart now than we maybe were at the start of the season. Tactically, we have come on in terms of pressing as a team and as individuals. Hopefully, we’ll keep improving on that throughout the season.”
Certainly Hoops fans are full of confidence, piling in to what they regard as generous odds on Celtic reaching the Champions League group stages, starting the job in style tomorrow evening before heading to Israel for the second leg next Tuesday. The sports betting at William Hill page provides a decent guide to some of the best bets with maybe Celtic to win minus a goal or Griffiths to grab the opener are top choices here.
Excitement is mounting and tomorrow evening is going to be another special occasion in the East End of Glasgow. COYBIG.