By Dominic Toner
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will treat their Champions League qualifier versus minnows Lincoln Red Imps as if they were one of Europe’s top sides.
The Hoops have travelled to Gibraltar for the first-leg on Tuesday and will start as strong favourites against the semi-professional opposition.
Their manager was quick to point out that there are no certainties as unlikely Premier League winners Leicester proved last season, by winning the title for the first time in their history.
Rodgers told the Herard Scotland: “We will treat them the same as if we were playing Barcelona or Real Madrid – that’s what I said to the team when we went through the video analysis.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the Champions League or a big game in Scotland. We will always respect our opponent. In modern day football you only have to look at Leicester City. No one game them a chance.”
Red Imps overcame the more fancied Estonian side Flora Tallinn in the last round and are preparing for a huge set of fixtures against the Scottish champions.
They are the country’s record champion with 22 league titles, the last 14 of which have been consecutive, and in 2014 they were the first team to represent Gibraltar in the UEFA Champions League.
Celtic have won the last five league titles in Scotland, but the last four have lacked the challenge of old firm rivals Rangers.
Rodgers will be under pressure to deliver in Europe this season, with the club failing to reach the group stages of the Champions League in the last two seasons. He was brought in for the start of this campaign to replicate the failings and help Celtic perform once again on the biggest club stage.
The fans will be delighted as they can now watch the game on BT Sport, after the channel made arrangements to show the match.
In other Celtic news, they have lined up a third bid for winger as Rodgers refuses to take no for an answer.