RONNY Deila returned from a spying mission to the San Siro with increased confidence ahead of Celtic’s Europa League last-32 clash with Inter Milan.
The Parkhead boss watched Roberto Mancini’s side quell supporters’ unrest with a 3-0 win over Palermo on Sunday, the home’s side first Serie A victory in a month.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference for Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership clash with Partick Thistle at Firhill, the Norwegian revealed midfielder Kris Commons’ grade one hamstring tear leaves him a doubt for the first leg at Parkhead on Thursday week.
Right-back Mikael Lustig is definitely out with an ankle injury which could see him sidelined for a month.
However, Deila believes his in-form side, who have not lost a game or a goal in their last seven outings, have nothing to fear against Inter, who sit 10th in their league.
“They (Inter) are a good team, a big club, with many good players,” he said. “But after the game I sat with a good feeling. I saw that they are a good team. But we are good as well.
“We can beat Inter Milan. We have a chance. We are in good shape. We have a very good squad and we look forward to the game.
“Mancini has not been that long in the club, it takes time to adapt and get together. You can see that they are not getting 100 per cent out of the players they have at this time.
“The results in the league haven’t been what they expected. The fans weren’t against them but it was quiet, it was not the same atmosphere as in the big matches we have had. But still they are a good team. However, we have done it before and we can do it again.”
Midfielder Stuart Armstrong and winger Gary Mackay-Steven, signed on transfer deadline day from Dundee United, are “very close” to making their respective debuts against Thistle, according to Deila, who has targeted the domestic treble.
The Parkhead side, who play Dundee United in next month’s Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park, will go three points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Premiership table with a win over Thistle.
And on Monday they were drawn against the Tannadice side in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
However, Deila was more cautious when asked if it was too early to be thinking about winning the Europa League.
“I am a person who takes one game at a time,” he said. “Inter Milan is a very big test but I believe it is possible and that is the most important thing.
“We are much more prepared now than when we were in the group stages. I am going into the match with a good feeling and thinking we have a good chance.
“We have played seven games without conceding any goal, we have hardly conceded any chances either and we have scored a lot of goals and created a lot of chances.
“Our tempo in everything we do is better, it is better injury-wise and we have trained a couple of months more, so that is why we are better.
“The biggest change when you meet good teams is in the tempo. You have to be up for the tempo and you have to take your chances and that is going to be important in the game.”
After the trip across the city to Maryhill, Celtic travel to St Johnstone on Saturday, also on league business, which Deila insists is paramount.
He said: “The most important thing is the league. It is very important to have good results and good performances in the two games coming up and if we have good results and performances then we will also take confidence into the next games.”
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