A good performance against AC Milan could be the catalyst for Celtic to turn their season around regardless of the result, according to Alex McLeish.
The former Rangers and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, has suggested Neil Lennon needs to focus on ensuring his players deliver a “confidence booster” of a display in Italy.
Celtic head into the clash at the San Siro knowing their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages are over after three defeats and a draw in their first four group games.
The Bhoys were beaten 3-1 in the reverse fixture at Parkhead back in October and have won just twice in eight games across all competitions since.
However, McLeish has insisted Thursday evening could be a game-changing moment for Lennon and his men and suggested the performance was, in fact, more important than the result.
Asked how he thought Lennon should approach Thursday’s game, McLeish told Football Insider: “In terms of a free hit, no one’s expecting Celtic to go there and hammer Milan – the fans, of course, will still have their expectations, and we get that.
“Neil has got to prepare like he prepares for every other top team that he plays against. It’s not a: ‘Okay guys, a free hit, just go, just drive at Milan for the whole 90 minutes and come away with a 3-0 victory.’ It just doesn’t work like that.
“I think they have to try and get a confidence booster performance – he’s got to concentrate, I think, on performance level if not the result and get back to somewhere, get these players playing with the confidence they’re capable of.
“Maybe a good performance in Milan could result in a good result. If so, they’re going to come back to the UK, to Scotland, was a wee bit of more bounce than when they went on that flight to Milan.”
Celtic will finish off their Europa League campaign with a home tie against Lille next week.
In other Celtic news, Frank McAvennie has savaged a senior star who’s “not up for the fight”.