Scott Brown unfazed by lack of away fans at Linfield tie in Belfast

Celtic captain Scott Brown
While Celtic will have no fans at Windsor Park in Belfast, Linfield expect to bring 1,500 supporters to Celtic Park next week

Celtic captain Scott Brown has played down the absence of his club's supporters at Friday's Champions League qualifier against Linfield.

The Scottish champions opted to reject their ticket allocation for the match at Belfast's Windsor Park for fear of trouble among rival fans.

The match was moved from 11/12 July to avoid a clash with Orange celebrations.

"It will be fine, it won't be a problem for us. It will be enjoyable, that's for sure," Brown told CelticTV.

The Scotland midfielder added that he felt confident the Celtic support would make up for missing the Belfast leg of the second round qualifier when the teams meet in the return leg in Glasgow next Wednesday.

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Linfield chairman Roy McGivern expects a 'great footballing occasion'

Last season Celtic suffered the humiliation of losing the first leg of their European qualifier against Gibraltar minnows Lincoln Red Imps, but he reckons there is no chance of a repeat upset.

"Everyone is in a better condition this year than what we were last year," said Brown, who is confident an Achilles problem suffered in Saturday's 9-0 win over Shamrock Rovers will not stop him facing the Northern Irish champions.

"We're looking a lot sharper, we scored nine goals as well in our last game so it shows we're finding our feet and we're finding it quickly.

"It's going to be physical, it's going to be a battle. They will want to make it a battle because of the way we play football and they're going to try and stop us and close us down early doors.

"But, when you look at our squad, we've got some great players that can deal with the pressure and have dealt with that kind of pressure in the past.

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Linfield manager David Healy

"The reason why the lads signed here is because they want to play in the Champions League. They want to play the big nights underneath the lights - and for it not to just be a one-off occasion.

"So our aim this season is to get back to the group stages because last season was a great experience for everyone.

"Now we have got a fresh feel about the squad with a couple of new faces, so here's hoping we can push a wee bit further."

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