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HARTLEY HAILS EURO CELTS

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FORMER Celtic star Paul Hartley insists Neil Lennon’s men can win the Europa League this season.

The ex-Scotland international midfielder believes the Hoops can go all the way to Gdansk on May 27 and claim the second European trophy in the club’s history.

Lennon is preparing his players for tomorrow night’s tie against FC Copenhagen at Parkhead which is delicately balanced at 1-1 after Odsonne Edouard’s crucial goal in last week’s encounter in the Danish capital.

Hartley, now boss of League Two Cove Rangers, says there is no reason why his old club can’t finish the job and take the silverware.

The former Hearts and Aberdeen ace, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “They’ve got a good chance of going all the way.

“It comes down to the luck of the draw sometimes, but they’re playing well and showing they are more than a match for anyone in the tournament.

“I don’t think any of the teams left in it will fancy going to Celtic Park, while Celtic have got their away form sorted in Europe, compared to how it used to be.

“You saw that last week in Copenhagen and earlier in the season with some of their other results, including the win against Lazio in Rome. Plus we already know Celtic can beat anyone at Celtic Park.

“They’ve got a strong enough squad to compete in Europe and domestically. Just look at their bench now.”

Hartley continued: “Having watched them since the turn of the year, they have a great chance.

“They’re in good form and they have that vital away goal after a good performance last week, particularly in the first half. I like the way they’re playing.

“Changing their system to 3-5-2 seems to have suited them so, especially with that crowd behind them, I’d expect them to win.

“Losing their captain – if Scott Brown does miss out – would be a big blow, but they have enough quality in their squad to bring someone else in without losing too much.”

Hartley also hailed Callum McGregor and added: “The way he is playing, he could be used anywhere – a holding midfielder or an attacking one, he has everything to his game. He’s just as effective as Scott when he sits in, which he’s done often enough in a 4-2-3-1, anyway.

“Wherever he’s used, he brings his range of passing and his game intelligence to the role – and he’s a big-game player.

“I think he has too much to offer in the final third to play the holding role, but he’s proved he can play there. He can do a job at this level for another 10 years because he can drop back.

“He’s great at keeping the ball moving first-time and the difference between him and others is that he always looks to play a forward pass.

“Callum’s not one of those negative players who knocks it sideways and backwards – he tries to break the lines – plus he’s a goal threat with that left foot.

“He’s the archetypal modern-day midfielder, one who’s able to control the direction and tempo of matches.

“I’ve seen Leicester City are supposed to be coming back in for him, but it would take a hell of a lot of money to take him away from Celtic.

“I’m not surprised Brendan Rodgers is interested and I’m sure he won’t be the only one. Callum seems to like being at Parkhead, but £25million is a lot of money for any Scottish club.

“Another thing I like about him is that he’s a level-headed player who doesn’t seem to get involved with social media, which is unusual nowadays.

“He just goes about his job week after week after week in a professional manner.”

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