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‘WE’LL HAVE TO ADAPT’ COLLINS

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CELTIC’S Champions League third round qualifying encounter against Qarabag will go ahead, despite the state of the pitch in Baku.

About a third of the pitch is reportedly “unplayable” after being damaged by recent hot weather in Azerbaijan.

But UEFA have said the second leg will go ahead on Wednesday as planned and there will be no change of venue.

Hoops assistant manager John Collins says his team will “just have to adapt” to the conditions.

The Scottish Champions take a 1-0 lead to Baku thanks to Dedryck Boyata’s late goal in the first leg in Glasgow last week.

Qarabag impressed with their possession play and Collins believes they will be equally inconvenienced by the surface as his travelling squad.

Collins, speaking at Glasgow Airport as the team prepared to fly out, said: “At this level, you expect the pitch to be of a good standard and if it isn’t we’ll just have to adapt our play.

“Our security are over there at the moment and they phoned me to say the pitch is not looking good, but I don’t think the game will be in doubt.

“I’ve never heard of a game being cancelled or put off because the pitch is bumpy and it will be the same for both teams which has to be remembered.

“If it is bumpy then we will have to be a little bit more direct and adapt, but they are a team who like to pass the ball on the ground so it will affect them as much as it will us.”

A spokesman from the Azerbaijan FA added: “The pitch is not perfect and we admit that. But the groundsman is optimistic.”

 
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