Champions League: Celtic's Neil Lennon wary of Shakhter threat

 

Champions League play-off round, first-leg

  • Venue: Astana Arena
  • Date: Tuesday, 20 August
  • Kick-off: 16:00 BST

Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland and live text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Neil Lennon insists Celtic will not take Champions League progress for granted when they face Shakhter Karagandy.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's play-off first leg in Kazakhstan, Lennon said clinching a place in the group stage would not be easy.

"They have already knocked out BATE Borisov who beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League last season," he said.

We are here to play hard football, we have our own incentives to qualify for the Champions League

Celtic boss Neil Lennon

"So this is going to be a difficult tie."

Lennon said his side are more experienced than Shakhter but said there "excellent home record" would make them a difficult proposition in the Astana Arena.

"Our home form in the Champions League is very good over the years but we know we are in for a very difficult game," he added.

"We are very well prepared for this tie and will give this all our concentration. We are not taking this lightly, we are not here for a holiday.

"We are here to play hard football, we have our own incentives to qualify for the Champions League. The tie is over two games and hopefully we will take some sort of result back to Glasgow."

Schalke striker Teemu Pukki

Lennon has no update on Celtic's pursuit of Schalke striker Teemu Pukki

Last season, Celtic booked their place in the group stage of the Champions League with victory over Swedish side Helsingborgs and Lennon hopes to use that experience to their advantage.

"I suppose after last year you are a little more comfortable," he said.

"But it is still quite a nerve-wracking time for all us involved although we try not to let that permeate to the players.

"We are relaxed, we had a great result at the weekend against Aberdeen and the players are in good form and looking forward to the game.

"We haven't had much time to gauge but I am very happy with the way the squad has settled.

"I have liked the camaraderie between the players and the new boys have settled in very well."

Lennon was asked about Celtic's interest in Schalke striker Teemu Pukki whose potential move may be in doubt after an injury to team-mate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

"I don't think it will have any bearing on him coming here or not," said the Celtic boss.

"We did make the offer before the Huntelaar injury so I imagine that wouldn't have helped things.

"I spoke to John Park (football development manager) late last night and he was working on a few players but no news today.

"I probably won't know until I get back from training."