Stjarnan v Celtic preview

Date published: Tuesday 21st July 2015 4:00

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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