Celtic under Europa pressure

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon insists the pressure to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League would be intense regardless of the club's financial results.

The Hoops this week revealed a 15% drop in annual turnover and an increase in bank debt of more than £4million, as well as posting a loss before tax of £2.1million after making a profit of £2million the previous year.

However, Lennon believes external expectations will pale in comparison to the demands his players will put on themselves ahead of Thursday night's play-off first leg against Utrecht, and said: "There is always pressure and it varies. There are different kinds of pressure and I think the most pressure will come from what we put on ourselves."

He added: "It is early days in the season and we are playing big games very, very early. We know that and we have accepted that.

"The priority is to try to wrest the title back from Rangers but we've had some great years over the last decade or so in Europe and we'd like another shot at that.

"Getting through these two games is important for the rest of the season as well."

Celtic crashed out of the Champions League at the qualifying stage to Braga but Lennon has taken plenty of encouragement from Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League opener at Inverness ahead of the clash with the Dutch.

He said: "I know it's different opposition, a different quality of opposition, but we will take a lot from the performance on Saturday going into the game and just try and be as productive as we can.

"I was really pleased with the fluency of the performance. From 30 minutes in, we played very well and showed what we are capable of.

"It's a difficult place to go to and we created chances as well, which was pleasing. We could have been a lot more clinical but I was pleased with the performance. It's only one game and we will see how we go."

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