Celtic go into tonight’s First Qualifying Round Second Leg tie in the Champions League with a decent goal cushion. Leading 3-0 from the first leg, Brendan will be looking to conclude this tie in as early as possible.
There are tougher rounds ahead, but he’ll still want a strong squad overall. The balance needs to be correct, but with a qualifier every midweek until the end of August, it will be a long slog.
With Celtic now almost certainly into the next round, it’ll either be a trip to Iceland or Norway depending on how things go between Rosenborg and Valur. The Hoops already traveled to Austria for the pre-season training camp, Ireland for a friendly and Armenia for last weeks first leg against Alashkert FC.
If previous years are anything to go by the Bhoys could end up further afield as has been the case in recent years. That won’t happen until the Third Qualifying Round if at all though.
The passage has never been easy for the Hoops, travelling such great distances so early on in the season. It is what we have come to expect though.
On the upside Brendan feels the players have come back in the best shape yet. If that is the starting point for this season then hopefully that will mean we are even sharper in the weeks ahead.
We also have to welcome back our World Cup players in the coming weeks. Tom Rogic and Cristian Gamboa will be the first to appear, followed shortly by Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata.
With Rogic and Gamboa out in the group phase, they will be due back very soon. Sweden made it as far as the quarter finals, but Lustig did not take part in their final match due to suspension.
Belgium were of course the Third Place Winner having beaten England on Saturday, but Boyata only appeared in their group phase matches. He hasn’t kicked a ball outside of training for nearly three weeks so he could be back quicker than we think.
And with any luck we’ll see some fresh faces in our ranks as well. I can see one or two new players coming in, more if there are any departures.
Tonight though, it is all about wrapping things up without too much fuss. All we need to do is see this tie out with a couple of more goals and not to over do things.
There is a long road ahead.