A recent opponent of Celtic’s Europa League opponents Zenit St Petersburg has said that the impact of the Russian league winter break could tip the tie in the Hoops’ favour.
Former Dunfermline manager Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk side lost 4-2 on aggregate to Roberto Mancini’s side in the Europa League last season.
But the Irishman, as quoted by the Scottish Sun, feels that the tie is there to be won for the Scottish champions.
He said: “I don’t think this is a tie Celtic should fear. Yes, Zenit will be strong and probably start as favourites.
“But when Celtic hit their flow, they are a very good team and also don’t discount the impact of the Russian winter break.”
He went on: “Zenit will have two months off before the first leg and although they’ll be training and playing friendlies, it’s not the same.
“You’ve got to assume Celtic will be that little bit sharper so if they can get a good result at Celtic Park, they’ll have a chance of progressing.”
The Bhoys qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League following an indifferent Champions League group stage campaign.
They suffered heavy defeats to PSG and Bayern Munich but did edge out Anderlecht to finish third in the group despite losing to the Belgian Champions in Glasgow.
Zenit topped their Europa League group which featured the likes of Real Sociedad and the Bhoys’ Champions League qualifying opponents Rosenborg.
Before the Europa League begins, the Hoops have a busy domestic schedule to navigate, beginning with the upcoming match against Hamilton.
The Celts will be looking to stay clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership, they currently lead Rangers and Aberdeen by five points with a game in hand.
The Bhoys play both Aberdeen and Rangers at Parkhead before the winter break begins on the 30th of December.