Home comforts crucial for Celtic

Date published: Sunday 21st June 2015 12:41

Collins explained that the aim is to limit travel ahead of the start of the new season and give the Scottish champions the best chance possible of qualifying for the group stages of Europe’s top club competition.

The Scot said: “Everybody associated with the club – players, coaches, supporters – wants to be in the Champions League, but so does every other team in Europe that’s in the qualifiers.

“There are a lot of good teams trying to get into it. We’re one of many and we’ll be doing our best to try and get in with the big boys. That’s our target at this moment in time.

“Last year we did a lot of travelling. We’d have Champions League games on the Wednesday then we’d have friendly matches on the Saturday, then Champions League on the Tuesday and overseas on the Saturday, so it’s important we get plenty of rest between the Champions League games.

“We do enough travelling when the season starts and we have a fantastic training complex at Lennoxtown. We won’t get a better training complex anywhere in Europe so why travel when we can stay at home?

“It’s great for the club some years to go and get the name and brand out there but this year we’ve decided to stay at home.”

Celtic’s pre-season schedule kicks-off with a friendly against Dutch side FC Den Bosch (July 1) before hosting Czech giants Dukla Prague (July 4) and David Moyes’ Real Sociedad (July 10). All three games will be played at St Mirren Park in Paisley as Celtic Park undergoes maintenance.

Those games will then be followed by a trip to Spain to take on SD Eibar before Parkhead sees its first action of the summer when the champions host Rennes on July 25.

One week later will see the start of the SPFL Premiership season as Ross County travel to Glasgow for flag day, but Ronny Deila’s men will have hoped to have played at least two Champions League qualifying matches by that point.

The draw is on Monday as Celtic enter the competition at the second qualifying stage with ties scheduled for July 14/15 and 21/22.

Collins added: “This time last year the players were new to myself, Ronny and John Kennedy. It takes time to get your game-plan and system in place with new players.

“We’ve had 12 months working with the players so they know what’s expected, they know what the training sessions are going to be and they know what the system’s going to be. They will know what their role is within the team so we’re well ahead of where we were last year. There’s no doubt about that.”

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