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HOOPS No.2 IN EURO WARNING

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CELTIC assistant boss Chris Davies fired out a warning that Astana will be dangerous opponents, but insisted the Hoops will be well prepared for a difficult tie.

The Kazakhstan title-winners will host Brendan Rodgers’ team in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier on Wednesday and the Parkhead coaching staff are aware of their European record at home.

Astana finished bottom of their section in last year’s group stage, but held their own against strong opposition in the matches at the 30,000 capacity Astana Arena. Galatasaray, Benfica and Atletico Madrid were all held to draws.

Davies said: “We’re expecting a really difficult game. They are a team that’s obviously done well in the Champions League at home.

“They got points off some big teams. So, we know it’s going to be tough. The pitch looks a little bit quicker than the Red Imps’ playing surface. It’s still an Astroturf base, but just a little bit quicker which could help our game.

“They’re a physical team, they’ve got some quality, so we’re going to be right on our mettle to get the result.

“We had the Leicester game and then we’ve been focusing on the game plan for Astana and doing a lot of work on that. We had a good session today and we’re confident that we can do a job.”

Davies revealed that Kristoffer Ajer was not travelling with the squad after suffering a thumb injury that will require specialist treatment. However, he was delighted with the signing of Kolo Toure, even though the defender is not fit enough to join the travelling party.

The Hoops No.2 added: “I am really pleased. Obviously, we worked with Kolo at Liverpool, he brings two things – he’s a top defender who is good with the ball and he also brings a real authority and experience. 

“He is an inspirational figure, so we are not only getting a really good player, but someone who can inspire players around them to help the team and younger players. 

“He has been working with a personal trainer. It is an important week physically for him and we will see how it goes.”
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