Celtic v Hapoel Beer Sheva: Hosts ready for Champions League play-off - Neil Lennon

Hapoel Beer Sheva
Hapoel Beer Sheva stand between Celtic and the Champions League group stage
Champions League play-off: Celtic v Hapoel Beer Sheva
Date: Wednesday, 17 August Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Celtic are "up to speed" as they bid to get past Hapoel Beer Sheva and reach the Champions League group stage, their former manager Neil Lennon says.

Brendan Rodgers' Celtic host Israel's champions in Wednesday's play-off first leg.

Hibs boss Lennon twice guided Celtic through tricky qualifiers to reach the group stage of the competition.

"I think Brendan knows what's at stake. It sets the whole season up brilliantly," Lennon said.

"I have spoken to him about it personally. I said, 'Look, these are your biggest games of the season'.

"The build-up is awful - it's just like a Celtic-Rangers game. But once the game's underway, it's great.

"They are awful to negotiate. You don't know who you're going to get, you don't know if the players are ready yet.

Celtic players
Celtic have overcome two rounds of qualifiers and won two domestic fixtures so far this season

"I think the Celtic players are up to speed now, judging by the performances of late.

"Knowing you're going back in [to the group stage] and what it means to the club and all those big games to look forward to, it's special."

Hapoel beat Greek side Olympiacos to reach the play-off stage.

"They've got a tough draw," added Lennon, who managed Celtic from 2010 to 2014. "I've signed an Israeli goalkeeper [Ofir Marciano]. I asked him about Hapoel, he said, 'They're a very good side'.

"I think Celtic will need to take something from Glasgow to there to protect because I think they're a good side at home.

"Olympiacos - they've been regular last-16 campaigners over a number of years so if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone."

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