Stjarnan v Celtic preview

Date published: Tuesday 21st July 2015 4:00

xxxx during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England.

The Dutch central defender, who has been linked with a move away from Glasgow throughout the summer, was suspended for the 2-0 first-leg victory over Stjarnan last week.  

Craig Gordon will be back in goal having been rested for the 4-1 friendly win against Eibar in Spain at the weekend, a game where Leigh Griffiths, who missed a penalty in the first leg, scored a confidence-building hat-trick.

Nadir Ciftci is also available to manager Ronny Deila, with the Turkish striker’s six-game suspension for biting an opponent applying to domestic matches only.

Iceland champions Stjarnan are currently 10 points adrift of league leaders Reykjavík following a 1-1 draw with Akranes at the weekend.

Stjarnan play on an artificial surface which was condemned by then Motherwell manager Stuart McCall after his side lost out in a Europa League qualifier there last season.

But Deila played down any concerns about the plastic pitch, saying his players had plenty of experience of similar surfaces in Scotland.

He said: “I am very positive about artificial surfaces. It is much better to play on a good artificial than very bad grass pitch.

“Everybody wants to play on a very good grass pitch like at Celtic Park but I think the surroundings are going to be good with a surface that we had to handle at Hamilton and Kilmarnock last season – and we did that quite well.
So I am looking forward to the game.”

Manager Runar Pall Sigmundsson said: “We have been dominating games but we are not taking our chances. We have to improve on that, starting against Celtic.I don’t think we are playing badly, but we need a break and our strikers need to do more.”

The winners will face either Azerbaijani side Qarabag or Rudar Pljevlja of Montenegro in the third qualifying round.

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