Loovens up for Celtic’s Italian job

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Celtic now have to give it one last push in their final Europa League Group I fixture away to Udinese on December 15 to get through to the knockout stages of the tournament, insists Glenn Loovens.

A 1-0 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid last night confirmed the Spanish club’s qualification but left the Hoops needing to beat Udinese to leapfrog the Italian club into second place.

An Arda Turan strike in the 29th minute separated the sides but the Parkhead defender was buoyed enough by Celtic’s performance to be confident of overcoming Udinese, who drew 0-0 with bottom side Rennes in France.

“We played well against a very difficult side so there is a lot of positives we can take from the game,” said the Dutchman.

“There is only one more game left to play and we are still in it.

“So we should go for the last opportunity and do everything we can to win that game and get through to the next round.”

Hoops boss Neil Lennon was delighted with his team’s performance but knows how difficult the task will be in Italy. “It’s a tall order,” said Lennon. “Udinese are an excellent side and we haven’t won away from home in a long while but we will give it everything we’ve got.

“I thought we matched Atletico for most of the game if not bettered them.

“It was an excellent performance and we deserved better from it.”

The Irishman will now turn his attention to the SPL game against Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday but will likely have to reshuffle again after injuries to Joe Ledley (twisted ankle) and Victor Wanyama (dead leg).

Ledley, playing at left-back again, was carried off on a stretcher in the first half after appearing to clash with Loovens while midfielder Wanyama stayed inside at the interval.

The former Celtic skipper said: “It is a twist on the ankle for Joe so he will be doubtful for Sunday.

“We will have to see how he is but I don’t think it is anything too serious.

“Victor picked up a dead leg and he was struggling with it the last ten or 15 minutes of the first-half so again he could be doubtful for the weekend.”