Celtic captain Scott Brown eager for Champions League return

Scott Brown
Scott Brown hopes to again captain Celtic in the Champions League group stage

Captain Scott Brown says Celtic are prioritising reaching winning form for next month's Champions League qualifiers.

Brendan Rodgers' side, group stage participants in the past two seasons, will be drawn in the Champions League first qualifying round on Tuesday.

Their potential second qualifying round opponents will also be drawn.

"Our aim is, at this moment, just to make sure that we win every game going into the qualifiers," said Brown, 32.

"We've done well in it, the last two years to get into it."

Unlike the past two seasons when Celtic won two qualifying rounds and a play-off, Brendan Rodgers' side will need to win through four two-legged ties to reach the group stage.

Celtic will face Alashkert, Flora Tallinn, Spartak Trnava, Spartaks Jurmala, Sutjeska or Valletta in the first qualifying round.

"They're making it harder and harder every year for us, but we've got to keep doing it and we are where we are, so we need to make sure we try and get into the Champions League," Brown said.

Treble winners Celtic last week made striker Odsonne Edouard their record signing, the Frenchman having been on loan at the club from Paris St-Germain last season and scoring 11 goals in Scotland.

"It shows our intent to go and get into the Champions League, to go and win the league again and to go and be more consistent this season than we were last season," Brown said of the capture of Edouard, 20.

"He'll develop a lot under a great coach and team that's here."

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Brown hoping Celtic hit top form ahead of Champions League qualifiers

Brown was asked about the possibility of team-mates leaving and said: "That's what happens in football clubs when you're successful.

"For us, people will always be getting talked about - Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong, Moussa [Dembele], Griff [Leigh Griffiths] - and people are being talked about because they're top-quality players and that's what you want at a club and that's when you know you're being successful."

Celtic start their defence of the Premiership title - their seventh in succession - at home to promoted Livingston on 4 August.

Brown said of this season's domestic challenge: "Aberdeen were fantastic last year. Motherwell got us in two cup finals as well and Rangers kicked on last season as well so it's going to be hard.

"When you look at teams like Hibs as well, they've got players like John McGinn that can score pretty much from anywhere.

"He's got great qualities, he's showed it with Scotland and he's also shown it against us as well."

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