Celtic: 'No excuses' for Astana Champions League trip - Chris Davies

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Kazakhstan trip poses problems - Rodgers

Celtic will have "no excuses" if they fail to overcome Kazakhstan side Astana in their Champions League qualifier, says assistant boss Chris Davies.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has highlighted the lengthy flight, different time zone, high temperatures and plastic pitch awaiting them in the first leg.

But Davies insists a "less than ideal" draw will not hamper their prospects.

"There are no excuses for us. We know we are a big team and have got to go there and do a big job," he said.

"Regardless of where it is, we are looking forward to it. No doubt Astana are a good team, they have got some quality.

"They were in the Champions League [group stages] last season, and they got points off Atletico Madrid, Benfica and Galatasaray so we know the challenge.

"But we are confident we can go there, do a job and bring them home and finish the job here."

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor heads the ball away against Lincoln Red Imps
Callum McGregor was one of many players to impress in the 3-0 win over Lincoln Red Imps

Celtic will make the 3,000-mile journey to Central Asia on Monday, to give them extra time to assimilate to the conditions before the first leg on Wednesday, 27 July, at 15:00 BST (20:00 local time).

"We always have a plan when we go on these long journeys - the diet, the sleep, the travel, the whole process - every minute is taken care of," Davies said.

"The players are brilliant, they don't look for excuses. They will get on with it and get ready for the game. It is less than ideal but we are looking forward to it.

"We want to create a positive environment. Whatever obstacles come our way, we will move past them."

Davies reiterated that Celtic hope to bolster their squad with at least one new signing before the first leg, with the return at Celtic Park the following Wednesday, 3 August (19:45 KO).

Brendan Rodgers chats with assistants John Kennedy (centre) and Chris Davies (right)
Davies (right), fellow assistant John Kennedy and Rodgers (left) will plan Celtic's itinerary "to the minute"

The Uefa deadline for new players expires at 23:00 BST on Thursday but Davies said they have the option of a "wildcard" signing up until next Tuesday, "so it gives us a bit of leeway."

Before they travel to the world's largest landlocked country, Celtic will host English champions Leicester on Saturday in a pre-season friendly at Parkhead.

It gives Rodgers' squad another chance to adapt to his methods after a month working with the new manager.

"The quality will go up against Astana and we will see that on Saturday as well, so that will be a good test for us," said midfielder Callum McGregor.

"You could see signs [in the 3-0 win over Lincoln] things are starting to click; in the first 45 minutes we passed and moved it at a good tempo.

"For us it is still early stages as we try to get the fitness side up, but another week on, we should be a bit sharper next week.

"The manager has spoken about different systems he might use, and it's great to have new ideas and build yourself tactically as well as physically and technically.

"We need to be ready for everything that comes your way. Everything needs to be spot on - there is not much room for error in these qualifiers."

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Wednesday 20th July 2016

  • CelticCeltic3Lincoln Red Imps FCLincoln Red Imps FC0
  • FC AstanaFC Astana2ZalgirisZalgiris1
  • F91 DudelangeF91 Dudelange1FK QarabagFK Qarabag1
  • IFK NorrköpingIFK Norrköping3RosenborgRosenborg2
  • Ferencvárosi TCFerencvárosi TC1Partizani TiranePartizani Tirane1
    Partizani Tirane win 3-1 on penalties
  • AS TrencínAS Trencín2Olimpija LjubljanaOlimpija Ljubljana3
    AS Trencín win on away goals
  • Dinamo ZagrebDinamo Zagreb3VardarVardar2
  • FH HafnarfjördurFH Hafnarfjördur2DundalkDundalk2
    Dundalk win on away goals

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