By Matt Farr

Celtic defender Mikael Lustig is confident that the Scottish side can become a real force in Europe.

Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers is on course for a clean sweep in domestic competitions this season, but has labelled European success as his primary long-term target.

Celtic have made it past the Champions League group-stage on just three occasions since the turn of the century, and last appeared in the knockout-stages in the 2012-13 competition.

However, 30-year-old defender Lustig believes Celtic have what it takes to develop into a strong Champions League team, one that can ensure safe passage to the latter stages on a more regular basis.

He told the Daily Record: “For the first time in a couple of years it feels like we are going for something big.

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“It feels like we are going to get better every year. We have the feeling that we don’t need to sell the best players.

“We want to develop so that in a few years we can become a good Champions League team that can get past the group stages. It’s a long road but it feels like we’ve made a good start.”

Celtic earned respectable draws against both Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach in this year’s competition, but their campaign was ended abruptly in November as they failed to pick up a single win from their six games.

They suffered three defeats, including a forgettable 7-0 drubbing at the hands of group winners Barcelona in the opening game.

Lustig appeared in all six of Celtic’s group-stage games, and missed just one of their qualification games en-route.

He recently committed his long-term future to the club, signing a new deal that runs until 2019.

The Hoops are next in action against Albion Rovers in the Scottish Cup fourth round on Sunday.

In other Celtic news, the Scottish champions have had a £1million bid rejected for this African goalscorer.

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