Ryan Christie says Celtic are desperate to qualify for the Champions League
Last Updated: 25/06/19 11:51pm
Ryan Christie has admitted Celtic's players are desperate to qualify for the Champions League group stages after missing out last season.
Celtic were beaten by AEK Athens in the third qualifying round last season and their bid to qualify this season begins on July 9 - when they face Bosnian league winners FK Sarajevo - in the first round of qualifying.
The Scottish Premiership champions started pre-season training this week ahead of that tie and must make it through four rounds of qualifying to reach the group stages.
"It is tough and it's a quick turnaround but I don't think we'll complain about it too much because its huge games you like to play in so early in the season," Christie told Sky Sports News.
"It can help cut pre-season short a little bit and take away some of the running. Hopefully we can progress this year and if we do so we'll be absolutely delighted.
"We're desperate to qualify for Champions League football again so all the mind-set will be on that for now."
Neil Lennon temporarily took over at Celtic Park midway through last season after Brendan Rodgers left for Leicester, and was given the job on a permanent basis in May after helping the club secure a historic treble-treble.
"I think he'll definitely have more time to get his points across between now and the qualifiers," Christie said.
"Everybody's made note of how well he did when he came in under the circumstances - he had zero time to put his own stamp on it.
"I think he'll be definitely wanting to put a few points across and get us playing the way he wants to play and hopefully that will put us in good stead going into these qualifiers."
Christie, 24, missed the last six games of the 2018-19 season after suffering multiple facial fractures in Celtic's Scottish Cup semi-final win against Aberdeen.
"Personally, the way last season ended with the injury I've been itching to get back in and training again," the midfielder added.
"I needed quite serious surgery and have got a few plates in my face now. It's a credit to the surgeon and the doctors who worked on me because without them I wouldn't be back so quickly.
"I've got no lasting after effects so I'm delighted with that."