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RODGERS RATES VALENCIA ‘A TOUGH TEST’

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BRENDAN RODGERS expects to get it tough against Valencia after today’s Europa League last-32 draw.

The Hoops will face the Spanish outfit in Glasgow on February 14 and again at the Mestalla stadium a week later.

Valencia are struggling in La Liga and sit in 14th place and finished behind Juventus and Manchester United in their Champions League group.

However, the Irishman believes they will prove to be difficult opponents as the Scottish champions attempt to reach the next knock-out stage of the competition.

Rodgers said: “One, I am delighted to be in the draw obviously and, two, of course, it is another game against a team with a great history, one of the great teams in Spain.

“They are a very good side with some very good players. We know it is going to be a really good game.

“I saw them this season against Manchester United, I thought when they played at Old Trafford they were like a typical Spanish team, technically very good and have some very good players.

“It will be a tough test by the time it comes around. We have the first game at home and we would like to bring some sort of advantage into the second leg.”

Celtic failed at the same stage in the last campaign, despite a brilliant goal from Callum McGregor in the opening tie in Glasgow for the only strike of the encounter against Zenit St Petersburg.

However, the Russians rallied in the return fixture to triumph 3-0.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the year and home games against Motherwell on Wednesday and Dundee on Saturday, Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Boxing Day and Rangers at Ibrox on December 29, Rodgers added: “We’re very clear within the club as to what we need to do. That’s to strengthen.

“Yesterday’s result didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

“My players might not always be at their very best, but they will always give their very best.

“We’ve got 13 days to go to finish of a very busy part of the season. The players have given so much and everything in the League is in our hands.”

On the injury front, Ryan Christie is back running and Nir Bitton stepped his recovery from a long-term injury as he started for the development side against Hibs earlier today.

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