CHARLIE Mulgrew believes Celtic will be ready for whoever they are paired with in the Champions League play-off.
The Scottish champions confirmed their place in today’s draw in Nyon with a goalless 90 minutes against Elfsborg in Boras last night.
Kris Commons’ goal from the first leg in Glasgow ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides and left Celtic with the prospect of facing Austria Vienna, Slovenian side Maribor, Shakther Karagandy of Kazakhstan, Bulgarians Ludogorets Razgrad or Legia Warsaw of Poland.
However, Mulgrew is not unduly worried about any of their possible opponents. “We know what to expect in the next round, in terms of how tough it will be,” he said. “We are just waiting to see who we get. Whoever it is, we will be ready.”
Neil Lennon’s men are within two games of reaching the group stages of European football’s elite club competition for the second successive year, and even if they lose out they will be guaranteed a place in the Europa League.
Mulgrew, who had to come off injured in the second half, was just glad to get through a tricky tie against the Swedish champions.
He said: “We knew it was going to be a tough match against Elfsborg after beating them 1-0 in Glasgow. It was just about getting the result, and we did that.
“Although we knew it would be enough to see us through, we never set out to try and get a 0-0. That’s too dangerous.
“We came to win and went looking for a goal and we had good chances, especially when Joe Ledley was in and was pulled back as he shot.
“We never managed to get the win, but, thankfully we did manage to keep a clean sheet.”
Lennon hopes to add at least one new player before the play-off ties take place on 20/21 and 27/28 August. In terms of numbers, that will only make up for the imminent departure of Kelvin Wilson.
The Englishman will return to Nottingham Forest for a fee reported to be £2.5 million.
Celtic’s next match is on Saturday when they travel to Dublin to take on Liverpool. Lennon’s men have been allowed a free week from the Scottish Premiership to play the exhibition fixture in the Irish capital.
For striker Anthony Stokes, it is the chance to play for his boyhood heroes in his home city in front of close family.
“Obviously, I supported the club when I was younger and most of my family and friends are Celtic fans as well, so it’s probably a bit more special for them more than anything,” he told the Celtic View.
“Most of my family are Celtic and Liverpool fans so there will be a couple of them killing two birds with one stone. They are another club who have a huge fanbase in Ireland and I’m sure it will be a brilliant atmosphere.
“I always love playing in Dublin and with so many supporters back in Ireland, Celtic are always very welcome there.
“It’s great to be home and play in front of family and friends and it will be an occasion that I’ll enjoy.”