ADAM Matthews believes Celtic have enough quality within their ranks to overcome Shakhter Karagandy after staging an impressive comeback against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Celtic fought back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw and a point against the table-topping Highlanders in the Scottish Premiership. And they must show even more fighting spirit to wipe out a two-goal deficit and rescue their Champions League play-off when the Kazakhstan champions come calling on Wednesday night.
But, despite injury concerns ahead of one of the biggest games of the season, Matthews has faith in Celtic’s ability to produce the goods on the night.
“We are confident we can get the result we need,” the right-back said. “We showed in the first leg that we can cause them problems going forward. We just need to keep it solid at the back.
“I think we will have a few players back to make the squad stronger, which is always good, but I think with the team we’ve got anyway we can cause them problems.”
Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons are most likely to recover from injury ahead of the European clash, with James Forrest and Derk Boerrigter rated 50-50. Anthony Stokes is a doubt and Beram Kayal has all but been ruled out after a groin strain forced him out of the Inverness game.
Matthews salvaged the draw with a late goal after playing further forward in the second half, and he would be willing to take on the role of right winger again against the Kazakhs if called upon. “If that’s the case, I will do it and try my best,” he said.
Caley Thistle raced into the lead thanks to goals by Aaron Doran and Richie Foran, before Charlie Mulgrew pulled a goal back just before half-time and Matthews netted a late leveller.
“I scored a few last year and that was my first goal this season, but the main thing is that we got the point we deserved,” Matthews said. “I thought our second-half performance deserved all three points, but we are happy with the draw.”
Meanwhile, Shakhter Karagandy manager Victor Kumykov blasted his “reserve” side for not winning their final warm-up game before travelling to face Celtic.
Shakhter again rotated their entire team and played their second string for a league match against Irtysh Pavlodar at the weekend. They could only draw 1-1, and that angered Kumykov.
“Points in this league are at a premium and the team I put out should have been good enough to win the game,” he said.
“I explained to the players they have to win their home games. I do not understand why they didn’t play well. I told them if they wanted to have a chance of playing against Celtic, they had to win.
“They were all unhappy at not playing against Celtic and I gave them this opportunity, but they didn’t express themselves. We will have to do better in Scotland.”