Celtic: Stefan Johansen boosted by signings for Inter Milan tie

Gary Mackay-Steven, Leigh Griffiths, Stefan Johansen and Stuart Armstrong celebrate
Stefan Johansen (third from left) scored in the 2-1 win over St Johnstone

Stefan Johansen thinks extra competition for places will benefit Celtic in Thursday's Europa League tie against Inter Milan.

January deadline-day signings Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven have started Celtic's last two games.

But Kris Commons and James Forrest will also hope to be fit for the tie.

"The competition in the team is so hard now, it's difficult to get in the team and you really have to earn your right to play," Johansen told BBC Scotland.

"I think that's one of our strengths now that we can put in new guys and people come off the bench and make an impact, but that's how it should be."

Celtic will be playing their third game in eight days when the Italians visit Glasgow in the last 32 first leg.

And manager Ronny Deila has talked about managing his squad carefully as they compete in three domestic competitions as well.

Leigh Griffiths scored in Saturday's 2-1 win over St Johnstone after being chosen ahead of John Guidetti in Perth, but the on-loan striker will be hoping to return against Italian visitors managed by his former boss at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini.

"The best thing about football is to play games, so everybody in the team wants to play," said Johansen when asked if fatigue might lead Deila to make changes.

Mauro Icardo (left) celebrates scoring against Palermo
Mauro Icardo (left) scored twice as Inter ended a run of defeats by beating Palermo last weekend

Celtic have gone on a run of eight straight domestic victories - and nine without defeat - to re-establish themselves at the top of the Scottish Premiership, reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals and the League Cup final.

"The gaffer has done a fantastic job since he came here and we're just getting better and better," said Johansen, who took his goal-tally for the season to seven after his strike against Saints.

Inter are struggling in 11th place in Serie A, although they ended a run of three straight defeats with last weekend's 3-0 win over Palermo.

However, Johansen recognises that Inter are still a quality side while retaining the belief that Celtic can progress.

"It is going to be a good test for us now against a big team on Thursday," he said.

"Whether it is a normal league game or a big European game, it doesn't matter, you go out to win the game.

"Inter is a big name, but I believe and hope we can go out there and give them a good game and get the win."

Johansen believes a 60,000 sell-out crowd will help the Scottish champions.

"Every football player in the world knows that a full Celtic Park is difficult to come and play in," he added. "To have the fans at our back is just amazing and we need to get them behind us."

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