‘WE’LL BE WATER BHOYS,’ RODGERS

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BRENDAN RODGERS will urge the Serbian match officials to take care of the health and safety of his Celtic players tonight.

The Hoops stars will experience blistering heat and sweltering conditions in Armenia when they face Alashkert in the first leg of their opening Champions League qualifier.

With temperatures in Yerevan tomorrow afternoon set to hit nearly 40 degrees and still forecast at 33 degrees by the scheduled kick-off time, Rodgers says he will speak with referee Danilo Grujic about the need for water breaks.

UEFA guidelines have implored that temperatures over 32 degrees trigger hydration breaks on 30 and 75 minutes of matches and FIFA have used a similar procedure at the World Cup.

Assistants Vladimir Jovanovic, Dragan Bogicevic and fourth official Novak Simovic will also be involved with Grujic’s team and Rodgers is planning to reiterate the matter to the officials before his troops face the furnace.

He said: “We’ll speak to the referee about water breaks.

“We did that in our pre-season when we played when we were away in Austria.

“Obviously, in these conditions, health and safety of the players is important because it’s a factor, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Rodgers acknowledges the conditions will present a problem in Yerevan, but has backed his players to handle the heat on and off the pitch at the Vazgen Sargsyan National Stadium.

The Irishman added: “What makes it difficult is when you’re not accustomed to it.

“I’d say there is a certain temperature when it becomes dangerous and I don’t think this is.

“So, you just need to manage the football game. It’s a different type of football and it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.

“You may go to World Cups and other situations as players where you have to deal with the conditions.

“There is a challenge with the heat. You can feel it just walking about, but, hopefully, we’ll look to manage that.

“I think the tempo and rhythm of the game will be different. The conditions mean you can’t play with a real intensity over the course of the 90 minutes.

“So, it’s about how you build the game and quicken it up when you get near the opponents’ 18-yard box.

“It’s educated pressure in these type of scenarios. We’re nowhere near our full levels of fitness at this stage of the season, so there is only so much you can do anyway.

“It’s about getting through these games, that’s important.

“Our style our football helps us when we come into these situations. We want to take care of the ball, look to keep it, but look to penetrate when we have it.

“In the conditions, you don’t want to chase the ball, so look after it when you have it.”

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