THE BIG STORY: Celtic take on Astana later today knowing that we have all but guaranteed our place in the Champions League group stages - you can read our preview here - and Brendan Rodgers is confident that Celtic ‘won’t lose focus’ despite taking a five goal lead to Astana. This was echoed by captain Scott Brown, who promised that Celtic won’t be ‘complacent’ in Kazakhstan. Even Astana’s manager as admitted that Celtic are ‘99 per cent through’ so hopefully we will see a performance devoid of silly mistakes like giving away an early goal. Astana have a very good record at home so a victory certainly isn’t guaranteed but this Celtic team is full of confidence and is more than capable of a rare away win in Europe.
OTHER NEWS: Quite a lot on the transfer front: as we reported yesterday Ajax Cape Town tweeted that a deal to sell their centre-half Rivaldo Coetzee has been ‘concluded’ - still no word as yet from Celtic but you would expect it to be announced in the next 24-48 hours. Peter Lawwell was spotted - sitting in front of Jose Mourinho - at last night’s Manchester City-Everton game so naturally a lot of people are thinking that he was there to conclude the deal to sign Patrick Roberts. We are also apparently ‘battling’ Leeds to sign Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom, and finally Nadir Ciftci left Celtic to join Plymouth on loan. There will no doubt be much more speculation ahead once our Champions League place is guaranteed.
Brendan Rodgers has been ‘stunned’ by Gordon Strachan’s refusal to pick Callum McGregor for Scotland’s games against Lithuania and Malta next month. The manager also encouraged Celtic’s fans to ‘sing a song’ for James Forrest. Hopefully one will be sung by the time of Saturday’s match against St Johnstone at Celtic Park.
ON THIS DAY: In 2015, Celtic defeated Dundee United 3-1 at Tannadice, with goals from Kris Commons, a Mark Durnan own goal and Callum McGregor.