Celtic’s Samaras must adapt to Cliftonville pitch

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GEORGIOS SAMARAS is less than enthused about playing on Solitude’s plastic pitch when Celtic take on Cliftonville in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier tonight.

The Hoops striker is not a fan of artificial surfaces, but will have to put that antipathy to one side as the Scottish champions start their European journey which they hope will at least take them into the group stages of the competition.

“I don’t like these pitches,” said the Greece international. “We played on these pitches a couple of times last year, in Helsinki and in Moscow. It is not like natural grass. It is much harder and you don’t have the same balance.

“But it is part of football and you need to give 100 per cent.

“If it is for one game that’s fine, but if a couple of clubs in the SPFL had an artificial surface, it would be a serious problem because I don’t like it.”

Celtic lost all four of their pre-season friendlies during their tour of Germany but Samaras insisted: “Those results don’t matter. It is all about finding your fitness and sharpness again and getting ready for the games that matter. The game that matters is tonight. We need to be really focused and realise that the season starts tonight.”