Champions League: Boyce believes Reds can surprise Celtic

Champions League 2nd qualifying round 1st leg: Cliftonville v Celtic

  • Venue: Solitude
  • Date: Wednesday, 17 July
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: Live on BBC2 in Northern Ireland & Scotland; live video on BBC Sport website; commentary on Radio Ulster & Radio Scotland

Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce insists that the Reds players believe they can beat Celtic in Wednesday's Champions League qualifier first leg at Solitude.

Manager Tommy Breslin admits the game is the biggest in the Belfast club's history but Boyce says that the Irish League champions will not be overawed.

"At home anything can happen," said Northern Ireland striker Boyce.

"We beat Kalmar (of Sweden) here last year. They are a full-time team so we don't see why we can't beat Celtic."

Boyce acknowledges that Celtic will rightly be favourites after "walking the Scottish League last year" but he believes a surprise home win is not beyond the realms of possibility.

"We're not going to be in awe of Celtic even though they have quality players."

Hundred of fans queue from the early hours of Tuesday to get their hands on tickets for Wednesday's Champions League qualifier first leg game between Cliftonville against Celtic.

The 22-year-old, who has earned four Northern Ireland caps, is in his second spell at the North Belfast club after spending a year with German club Werder Bremen from 2010 to 2011.

His brilliant form last season, when he scored 36 goals for the title-winning Reds, earned him the Northern Ireland Footballer of the Year award.

Boyce has been linked with cross-channel moves over the last six months and he knows that Wednesday's game could be a "shop window" for his talents.

"The game is on national TV and a lot of people will be watching Celtic. (But) I'm just going out to treat it as any other game.

"I don't want to get nervous just because it's a big match."

Boyce is a certain starter at Solitude but manager Tommy Breslin admits that he does have a couple of selection issues to mull over.

"I have different formations going through my head and there are one or two positions affected by that," added Breslin.

The Cliftonville boss makes no attempt to hide the significance of the fixture for the North Belfast.

Celtic have a huge fan base in Ireland and fans queued through the night to pick up the last remaining available 500 tickets on Tuesday morning for the game.

"Bar none (it's the biggest game in Cliftonville's history).

"We've been in Europe before and had some good performances but to play a world-renowned team like Celtic, who were in the last 16 of the Champions League and beating Barcelona is beyond belief.

"From the outset we wanted to play here for our supporters.

"Now that an extra 500 tickets have been made available for them is brilliant for them. The supporters will be here long after Celtic have come and gone."