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‘WE CAN BE EURO KNOCK-OUT,’ RONNY

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RONNY DEILA believes anything is possible if Celtic reach the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
First, though, they have to progress through Group A and three points tonight against Fenerbahce at Parkhead are a must after the well-earned 2-2 draw with Ajax in Amsterdam a fortnight ago.
Deila reckons qualification is well within his team’s grasp and remains confident that if they can secure European football beyond the turn of the year then they can make significant inroads into the tournament.

The Norwegian said: “First off, is to do everything we can to play football in February, That is the main target for Christmas.

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“If we can do that, everything is possible. It is a Cup, two games and, with a little bit of luck, we will develop as a team.

“I think we are in a good place and when we are playing at our best we can beat anybody in this group. That gives us confidence.

“We took an important point away at Ajax and if we win tonight we put ourselves in a very good position in the group. That is why we have a lot to win and we have to attack that opportunity.

“There is tough pressure on Fenerbahce after they lost at home to Molde, so we could put ourselves in a very good position if we get three points.

“We saw with Malmo that they struggled in the first-half and we had a lot of chances. If we can get that performance over 90 minutes we’re going to be hard to beat.

“For me, it has to be very clear – that is the match plan and we have to execute it with energy and belief.”

Deila goes into the game against the Turks after receiving a public pat on the back from the club’s major shareholder Dermot Desmond who spoke yesterday of his satisfaction at the progress he believes the team have made since last year.

The Hoops boss blotted his copybook by failing to land a Champions League spot for the second successive season, but the Europa League presents an opportunity for him to atone for that.

He said: “If you can’t go through the hard times you’ll never be a manager in this business.SOCCER Celti_3

“The same with the players. That is the time to show what kind of character you are.

“I know what I am and I will stand for my values and my way of thinking in football and leadership.

“So far we have done a lot of good things, but we’ve also made mistakes. That will always happen. But it’s the setbacks which sometimes make you better.

“The most important thing is everyone is working together, in good times and bad.”

Meanwhile, Deila has a problem to solve at left-back. Emilio Izaguirre is suspended tonight following his dismissal against Ajax and Charlie Mulgrew is unlikely to be fit.

New centre-back Jozo Simunovic is also injured meaning that either Tyler Blackett or Kieran Tierney would be the most likely options to deputise for the Honduran internationalist.
In midfield, Stuart Armstrong is physically fit, but lacks match sharpness after recovering from a back injury.
 
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