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  • McIntyre: Celtic Academy excited to start another Euro adventure

    McIntyre: Celtic Academy excited to start another Euro adventure

    By: Mark Henderson on 12 Sep, 2017 09:00

  • TOMMY McIntyre says there is a heightened sense of anticipation as Celtic’s young guns begin another European adventure later today in the UEFA Youth League against Paris Saint-Germain.

    For the past six years, the Celtic Youth Academy have been at the vanguard of cross-border youth football competition on the continent, participating in the NextGen Series which was the forerunner to the UEFA Youth League

    They will also take part in the English Premier League International Cup in the coming campaign for the fourth successive year, a tournament which see the Hoops youngsters go head-to-head with their best contemporaries down south and a select group of European opponents.

    While playing the cream of the continent is not a new phenomenon for Celtic’s young players or the Academy coaching staff, it doesn’t mean their excitement or enthusiasm has dipped as they look forward to locking horns with PSG at the YOUR Radio 103 FM Stadium, the home of Dumbarton FC (KO: 5pm).

    And while facing the talented Parisians – UEFA Youth League semi-finalists last season – will be a tough start for a relatively inexperienced Celtic side at this level, it’s a challenge they are all relishing, according to McIntyre.  

    “It’s an unbelievable competition to be involved in,” said the Professional Academy Manager.  “We have a relatively young side so it will be a big test for us.

    “We have been fortunate enough that we have been involved in programmes for years. We pioneered playing against the cream of Europe in top quality competitions before the UEFA Youth League, such as the NextGen Series.  

    “As long as I remember in my time at the club, we have always had top-level competition outside the domestic competition. There is the EPL International Cup in which we play against strong teams from England and elsewhere, which also gives us a healthy ground for our young players to develop.

    “We are a wee bit in the dark as it’s only the first game but once all the teams have played, we will get all that information on them. But it’s a really exciting game for us to take and it gives us a showcase against top-quality opposition.

    “They will probably be older than us but we are really happy about the emergence of one or two young players from the Academy into the first team and it gives the other young players an opportunity to come in and show they can they grow within the Development Squad, and that’s a clear indication of how vibrant the Academy is within Celtic.”

    Since the draw was made, McIntyre and the rest of the backroom staff at the Academy have done their homework on PSG.

    But Celtic don’t need to look far for a reminder of the types of talented individuals that have graduated from the French side’s renowned youth set-up in the form of Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard.

    “They have a B-squad league and an U19 league so we have managed to glean as much information as we can,” said McIntyre. “They have a big pool of players and as you would expect they are full of internationalists, and they have a very good reputation in terms of developing players so they will be a really strong side.

    “French football is on the rise and you can see the players who are distributed throughout the top leagues in the world, including the ones who have come here. That’s testament to the players they are developing.

    “We have done a little bit of homework and I watched their games last year against Salzburg and an U19 game league game against Lens, and they were big and physical, well-organised and had good pace about them. They are beatable, and Salzburg beat them in the semi-final of the UEFA Youth League last season, which underlines it will be a tough game.”

    And McIntyre reckons that the expertise and experience of Shaun Maloney – a former UEFA Champions League player for the Bhoys - on the coaching staff could prove invaluable to the young Hoops.   

    “We have a new addition to the coaching staff in Shaun Maloney, who brings a wealth of playing experience and is now cutting his teeth in coaching,” said the coach.

    “He has settled in really well and he has been a masterstroke for us. Again, he will bring something different to the table, having experienced Champions League games. For the younger players, he will be able to impart his knowledge on to them, as they will be nervous, so that will be a great benefit for us."

    Celtic U19 will face their PSG counterparts today at the YOUR Radio 103 FM Stadium, the home of Dumbarton FC (KO: 5pm). Free entry.

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