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Celtic goalkeeper rates defensive options ahead of Champions League match

By Dominic Toner

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon believes Celtic have a strong enough selection of defenders in the squad for their Champions League clash.

Celtic face Kazakhstan outfit FC Astana on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier, after overcoming minnows Lincoln Red Imps 3-1 on aggregate in the last round.

Brendan Rodgers will be without defender Erik Sviiatchenko, who is facing a spell on the sidelines through injury, but Gordon believes his absence won’t hamper the Scottish Champions.

“We’ve changed systems and personnel in the back three or back four, depending on which game we’ve been playing, and everybody who has come in has done well,” Gordon told Celtic’s website.

“I don’t see it being a problem. We still have the same defenders we had at the club at the end of last season, so I don’t see any problem with whoever is picked to start. They’ll be up to the task.”

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Senior pair Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata are still returning from injury and latest signing Kolo Toure will not be available for the first leg of the European clash.

Brendan Rodgers is likely to field two of three options, with make-shift centre-back Mikael Lustig, youngster Eoghan O’Connell and Efe Ambrose the only central defenders at his disposal. Ambrose has been linked with a £1million move to Olympiacos by the Daily Record.

Astana manager Stanimir Stoilov told the Evening Times that he sees Celtic as favourites to progress, but believes his side can cause an upset.

Celtic will be hoping to advance to the Champions League group stages for the first time since the 2013/14 season, when they competed against AC Milan, Ajax and Barcelona.

In other Celtic team news, Rodgers has revealed to fans when Kolo Toure will play his first game.