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  • Brendan Rodgers: Craig Gordon will start against Manchester City

    Brendan Rodgers: Craig Gordon will start against Manchester City

    By: Martin Dalziel on 27 Sep, 2016 15:33

  • CRAIG Gordon will start in goal for Celtic in tomorrow night’s UEFA Champions League clash with Manchester City after returning to league action for the Bhoys at the weekend.

    The Hoops No.1 came on at half-time against Kilmarnock on Saturday, replacing recent signing Dorus de Vries, who strained a muscle in his chest as he attempted to save the Rugby Park side’s opener in the 6-1 victory for the Scottish champions.

    And Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has today revealed that Scotland internationalist Gordon will retain his place between the sticks for Wednesday’s game against City at Celtic Park, allowing the veteran shot-stopper to make his UEFA Champions League group-stage bow.

    Speaking at the pre-match press conference, the Hoops boss said: “He (De Vries) trained yesterday and trained today. He's still a bit sore but he’s fine.

    “Craig Gordon will start tomorrow. As it is for every game, I pick the team to come in and play. Dorus isn’t 100 per cent fit after the weekend. He has trained and worked with the team but there is no need for us to take any risk in a game like this when I’ve got an outstanding goalkeeper beside him, so Craig will play.”

    Gordon lost his place to de Vries following the Dutchman’s arrival at Paradise in the summer transfer window and went more than a month without a match after playing in the 2-0 loss to Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Champions League play-offs - a result that saw Gordon save a penalty and was ultimately enough to ensure Celtic's qualification to the group stages.

    Since then the 33-year-old has worked to adapt his game to improve his chances of returning to the starting XI for the Celts and he achieved that goal last week when the Hoops took on Alloa in the League Cup.

    Saturday was his first league appearance since the 4-2 win over St Johnstone on August 20 and the manager said he was pleased with the application of the full squad, who have all raised their game to reach the high standards set by the Irishman and his coaching staff.

    “I have been delighted with all the players,” he added. “The intention to come in here was to improve them all as players, whether it was the senior ones or younger ones.

    “They have applied themselves really well. They are a team that want to get better and improve, and that’s from the goalkeepers all the way through, so I have been delighted by every single one of them.”

    Gordon and the rest of the Celtic squad now face the task of finding a way past Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who have won all 10 of their competitive games so far this season, including a 4-0 home win over Borussia Monchengladbach in their opening UEFA Champions League group-stage match.

    The manager added that he is under no illusion about the difficulty of that task but said that Wednesday night is the time for his team to wipe the slate clean from the Barcelona loss, and properly start their Champions League campaign.

    “They are a team at the top of the game,” he said of Guardiola’s side. “I have watched Man City and worked against them over the course of the last five seasons and they have always had an outstanding group of players, hence going on and winning leagues and cups, but the level of their play has gone up since Pep has come in.

    “The intensity of their game has gone up and what you can see is a team working collectively with one idea. When you have top-class and world-class players working to that level then they are a very hard team to contain.

    “For us, we know it’s going to be a difficult night but we hope it’s going to be a difficult night for them. Celtic Park, traditionally, is a very difficult place to come and play. You have 60,000 fanatical supporters here backing us and one thing’s for sure - we won’t be as passive as we were in the last game.

    “Since we’ve worked together, which is only since the summer, we’ve been very much a team that has been defending forward and been aggressive in our play, both with and without the ball.

    “Probably the only time that didn’t take place was away in Barcelona, which is understandable for some of the players because much better teams than us have struggled there, and probably the first-half away at Inverness.

    “Apart from that we have been really aggressive in our game and the players now are ready to begin for real what I would say is our attempts here in the Champions League.”

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