BRENDAN RODGERS has admitted he is saddened by the fact there will be no Celtic fans in Windsor Park tonight as their Champions League campaign gets underway.

The Hoops will face Linfield at Windsor Park without the backing of their remarkable support after the club refused their allocation of tickets for a potentially powderkeg confrontation.

The original dates set aside by UEFA would have seen the Parkhead club travel to play the Northern Irish champions at the height of the marching season on July 11/12.

That sparked fears of trouble among the Glasgow club’s supporters and Linfield’s fans.

Rodgers said: “The disappointment is that the supporters aren’t there because wherever Celtic travel worldwide they are renowned for having great support.

“Celtic is a club that lots of teams want to have as their testimonial game. Why? Because supporters travel in great numbers and how they behave when they go to those grounds.

“The only sadness for me, wherever I have been and travelled in this last year, the games have been great, but the supporters have been brilliant.

“It is unfortunate they are not going to be there which is a shame for Linfield and Northern Ireland. Football is loved in this country and to have the two sets of supporters there would have been fantastic.

“The football club haven’t been able to have assurances for their safety which is sad for me, coming back to Northern Ireland and a new Northern Ireland and not be able for some way ensure that the supporters’ safety is guarded then that is a problem for me.

“Celtic as a football club protects its supporters and it was deemed for whatever reason that it would maybe be unsafe to travel or be there then of course there has been steps put in place.”

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