Friday 9 December 2016

'We want to be back in the Champions League group stages' - Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers

Andy Newport

Published 17/06/2016 | 10:45

Rodgers: New Celtic boss. Photo: Steve Welsh/Getty Images
Rodgers: New Celtic boss. Photo: Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers says the sight of the championship flag flying over Parkhead will inspire his side to go for six-in-a-row.

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The Hoops found out on Friday that they will kick-off their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign away to Hearts on the weekend of August 6.

But with the champions opting to postpone their second game against Partick Thistle the following week so they can take on Italian giants Inter Milan in a glamour friendly in Ireland, it means the Parkhead faithful will not see their team at home in league duty until August 27 when they take on Aberdeen.

Rather than make the fans wait for the traditional flag unfurling ceremony, however, Celtic chiefs have decided to hold it when the club kicks off their Champions League qualifying bid in July.

And Rodgers - who is hoping to add to the five title successes recorded by his predecessors Neil Lennon and Ronny Deila - believes his players will be determined to cling on to their trophy.

"It's always exciting for players, managers and supporters to see the fixtures announced," the manager told Celtic's official website. "It lets us know what we have ahead of us and gives us that extra edge, that something to focus on.

"I am sure, like myself, the players will have an eye on things today and when we see them on Monday we will get into our work straight away to be ready for the action starting.

"Early in the season we also have some very important Champions League qualifying games to look forward to, which again will be very exciting for everyone around the club. I am well aware that our fans would love to see us back in the group stages of the Champions League and this desire is shared by myself and the players - it's something we really want to achieve.

"It will be great to see the league flag flying at the first of our qualifying matches and our first competitive match at home - I know it is a day the players who earned this will savour.

"Ronny, his backroom team and the players did great work in bringing our fifth consecutive title to Celtic Park, they deserve enormous credit for their efforts, and I'm sure our fans will enjoy this occasion. We will of course be aiming to make it six and hopefully next year we are doing the same again, that will certainly be our aim.

"I can't wait for our first matches to kick-off, but before that, the hard work begins."

Press Association

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