CHARLIE MULGREW challenged his Celtic team-mates yesterday not to look for excuses for their Champions League humbling in Kazakhstan and focus instead on overturning the 2-0 deficit.
The Scotland defender reminded his fellow players that the club’s support will create a potent atmosphere for next Wednesday’s play-off return leg against Shakhter Karagandy at Parkhead.
Many of the recriminations that echoed across the country yesterday hinged on manager Neil Lennon’s failure to reinvest the £20million earned by the sale of Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Kelvin Wilson in quality replacements that might have shored up the Scottish champions’ defence and attack in Astana.
However, Mulgrew said: “We are not using that as an excuse. We knew these questions would come but we have a lot of belief in each other, we have a big squad and enough players to deal with the challenge.
“We knew this tie was over two legs and we are looking to next week to turn it around.”
Celtic’s remarkable home record and support in Europe, allied to the inexperience of Shakhter at this level, was fuelling optimism about Celtic’s hopes of a comeback.
Mulgrew added: “The crowd will get right behind us and we will really need to go for them.”