John Collins says pride at stake for Celtic

Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose and Nadir Ciftci prepare for departure to Turkey. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose and Nadir Ciftci prepare for departure to Turkey. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
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John Collins believes Celtic’s pride is at stake in Thursday’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce in Istanbul.

The Scottish champions will finish bottom of Group A after taking only two points from five fixtures, meaning the final match is a dead rubber as far as they are concerned.

Parkhead assistant Collins accepts it is a match they could do without, but he is looking for Celtic to finish the campaign on a high against a side that still require a point to qualify for the knockout stages.

“There is a lot at stake for the boys,” he said, speaking at Glasgow airport before flying out. “There is pride. It is another European game.

“We want to try to finish the campaign with a good performance and victory. We will be playing our strongest team.

“There is always ifs and buts, but the reality is we never got the results we needed and wanted. We can’t qualify but we want to put in a good performance and try to get a result.

“We have already assessed the games we have had. We know we have made mistakes and errors and we know we have to get better.

“We will try to defend better than we have in previous games and of course try to score goals and it is preparation for next season.”

Collins is confident Nir Bitton will not be distracted after Celtic were moved to issue a statement stressing there has been no approach for the Israel midfielder.

The Parkhead club responded to comments attributed to the 24-year-old’s agent, Dudu Dahan, which suggested Bitton was likely to be the next Celtic player to depart for the Barclays Premier League.

Dahan refuted the quotes attributed to him, saying: “These reports are not correct, I have never said that Nir will leave Celtic.”

Asked if there was a possibility of Bitton being distracted, Collins, who values the ever-improving player at “£10 million-plus”, said: “Not at all. He is a very level-headed young man, very focused, he knows his job is to train and play for Celtic.

“Nir signed a five-year contract. He has been a terrific player for us.

“He has had a fantastic 12 months and hopefully he will have many more for Celtic.

“He is a terrific young boy to work with and I know he is enjoying playing for Celtic.”

Midfielder Kris Commons returns to the squad after missing the last four matches with a combination of a hamstring injury and illness.