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I'LL NEVER BE EMBARRASSED; CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CRUNCH by my Bhoys Rodgers defends his red-faced stars and backs them to dump Gibraltar minnows Backing for flops.

Byline: CRAIG SWAN

CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers last night launched a passionate defence of his under-fire players and insisted they'll never embarrass him.

And ahead of the crunch second leg with Lincoln Red Imps he warned that even facing part-timers doesn't guarantee a walkover.

The Hoops squad was ridiculed after the 1-0 first-leg loss in Gibraltar eight days ago, a defeat dubbed by some ex-Parkhead heroes as the worst in Celtic's history.

Rodgers was also hammered for admitting he wasn't embarrassed by the nightmare setback dished out by policemen, Turn to Page 54 From Back Page customs officers and labourers. The Parkhead boss hasn't changed his stance going into the second leg of the Champions League second-round qualifier and is backing his troops to set the record straight tonight.

Asked if he stood by his comments, he said: "Yeah, 150 per cent. I was disappointed with the result. Everyone was. Results will always spark a reaction.

"The question is 'was I embarrassed by the players?' No, I wasn't.

"I'm working with a group of players who are so humble and have no ego.

"They are doing their best, they work hard, they need help and support and that's what we are trying to give them.

"These games are always built up as walkovers but there are not too many of them in modern football.

"It doesn't matter if they work in a bank or not, if you have 11 people behind a ball and they are fit enough they can make it very difficult. That was proven last week.

"This is my first experience of up here in terms of coming in for pre-season and you have your most important matches right at the front.

"Do people understand how tough these qualifying games are? No, clearly not.

"It's difficult but we accept it. It has always been about getting the job done. " Failure to progress tonight is unthinkable for Celtic and Rodgers is planning ahead. The manager will have scouts watching next potential opponents Astana and Zalgiris Vilnius in their second-leg clash.

Rodgers is also eyeing a transfer deal before Thursday's midnight deadline for the next round, with defenders a priority. Although Erik Sviatchenko is fit to face Red Imps, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata are injured and Mikael Lustig comes in at centre-back after Efe Ambrose's first-leg howler.

Rodgers said: "Ideally we would want one more in by the deadline. Is it realistic? I hope so. It won't be the fault of this club if not."

CAPTION(S):

REVENGE MISSION Celts boss Rodgers

HOWLERAMBROSE faces axe

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 20, 2016
Words:427
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