Brendan Rodgers insists he is not disappointed Celtic are in the Europa League, saying the Hoops do not “deserve” Champions League football.
Celtic qualified for the group stages of last year’s tournament, however struggled to compete with Paris Saint-Germain, and Bayern Munich – finishing third on goal difference ahead of Anderlecht in Group B.
Rodgers was unable to navigate past a difficult Europa League last-32 fixture with Zenit St Peterburg following their early exit from the Champions League as they lost 3-1 on aggregate.
Defeat to AEK Athens in this season’s Champions League play-off ensured Celtic would be playing in the Europa League this term, and according to Rodgers, it is where they belong.
Asked if he was disappointed to be in the Europa League, Rodgers said: “No, it’s where we deserve to be.
“We are not entitled to be in the Champions League, we didn’t qualify – simple as that. We are right in the competition that we deserve to be in.
“We respect that and it is our duty to get as far as we possibly can.”
Kristoffer Ajer is a major doubt for Celtic’s clash with the Norwegian side on Thursday evening.
The Norway defender is suffering from a virus and will be assessed before the match.
Fellow defender Jozo Simunovic remains out with a knee injury while long-term absentee Nir Bitton (knee) is progressing with his rehabilitation and on course for an October return.