Brendan Rodgers: Celtic will handle Champions League pressure

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his players have responded well to pressure thus far. Picture: SNS

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his players have responded well to pressure thus far. Picture: SNS

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Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers believes his men will stand firm under the pressure of Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

With a potential £20 million bounty at stake for reaching the group stages, the Hoops boss is well aware of the importance of the play-off double header with the Israeli champions.

It is three years since the Scottish champions took their place among the biggest names in Europe.

Under former boss Ronny Deila last term, their entry ticket was snatched away by a disastrous defeat in their final qualifier with Malmo, while the Norwegian’s first attempt at qualification the year before also ended in frustration despite having two goes at it.

But Rodgers is confident the team he is now in charge of will not wilt in the same manner this time round.

He said: “The last couple of seasons have gone by and the players learn from those experiences.

“But it’s also a new team with new ideas - a new identity - and we’ve shown over this early part of the season an ability to deal with pressure.

“We’ve talked about that. This is a team that went to Hearts on the back of a really difficult qualifier in midweek but came through it.

“There are various checkpoints in games where you are asked questions under pressure and so far I’ve been really pleased with how the players have coped.

“This will be the same. We’re very calm but we understand that over the course of the two games there will be moments where we have to cope with it.

“But looking at how the boys have been working, I see no reason why we can’t. We’re playing the champions of another country but we’re ready to accept the challenge.

“Hopefully the players have positive experiences they can take in having learned from the past.”

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