John Collins surprised at Molde’s Europa League start

John Collins confessed to being surprised at Molde's start to the European campaign. Picture: SNS

John Collins confessed to being surprised at Molde's start to the European campaign. Picture: SNS

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CELTIC assistant manager John Collins admits he has been surprised by Molde’s start to the Europa League campaign ahead of the Hoops’ clash with the Norwegians on Thursday night.

After a win at Fenerbahce and a home draw against Ajax in their opening two Group A fixtures, Molde sit top with four points, two ahead of the Scottish champions.

When the draw was made probably most people didn’t expect Molde to be top of the group after two games. I think it has surprised everybody

John Collins

Collins was speaking at Glasgow Airport, where he revealed defender Jozo Simunovic, out injured since making his debut against Ajax in September, would rejoin the squad but would be unlikely to start, and James Forrest was out with a knock, along with long-term injured Charlie Mulgrew.

Midfielder Stefan Johansen is also back after missing the 1-0 success over Motherwell at the weekend with a knock.

READ MORE - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns as Molde boss

The former Celtic midfielder, talking to the media before it was revealed that Molde had appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their new manager, said: “When the draw was made probably most people didn’t expect Molde to be top of the group after two games. I think it has surprised everybody.

“But they have proved on the European stage that they have got their tactics right and picked up a good victory away in Turkey and a good draw against Ajax.

“Individually, they don’t have the same quality (as Ajax and Fenerbahce players) but as a team they have got it right in Europe.

“Defensively they are very sound, very compact and they hit you on the break with good pace in wide areas and up front so it has to got to be concentration from first minute to last minute.

“It would be great to get three points. That is the objective. We will go across here and try to win the game.

“I’ve got a feeling this group will go to the last games. It would be nice to qualify before the last games but first and foremost we have to get three points tomorrow.”

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Collins was glad to get Simunovic back from what was initially a twisted ankle which turned into a bruised bone.

He said: “Jozo has trained this week so we will see how he is but I don’t think he will be ready to start the game.

“He is a big signing for us. I thought he did very well in his first game against Ajax.

“He has been unfortunate, he injured himself in training but we look forward to getting him back.”

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