Scottish Premiership - Celtic take flight for Euro mission

Celtic boss Neil Lennon insists the Hoops have taken every precaution to ensure their Champions League ambitions are not ruined by travel weariness.

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Champions League - Lennon: Champions League task not 'insurmountable'
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Neil Lennon (PA Sport)

The Scottish champions face a long-haul flight ahead of Tuesday night's final qualifier first leg with Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan.

But Lennon hopes to give his men as much time as possible to adapt to the local conditions before they run out on the Astana Arena's plastic pitch with a place in the group stages and £7.4million in prize money at stake.

The Glasgow side were heading straight from Pittodrie to Aberdeen Airport following Saturday's Scottish Premiership encounter with the Dons as they look to make an early start in the journey to a nation officially situated in central Asia.

But Lennon admitted the logistics of the journey made him nervous.

"It's difficult," he said. "It's a six or seven-hour flight and we arrive very early in the morning. Sunday will be important in terms of rest and recovery, getting up to speed with the time difference and getting enough nutrition and fluids into the players, so that they are not dehydrated, and also acclimatising to the weather.

"Then we will look at the training preparations on Monday.

"I've spoken to the people at the Football Association of Ireland who have played an international game against Kazakhstan and they felt they should have gone a day earlier. We are prepared to do that, so maybe that's an advantage for us."

It is just 10 days since Celtic edged past Elfsborg in their previous qualifier to set up their meeting with Shakhter, but the short space between the ties has left much of the Glasgow club's travelling support unable to secure the necessary visas.

That led Lennon to back the calls from Motherwell boss Stuart McCall for regionalised draws in the early stages of European competitions.

"It will be unusual for us [not to have many fans there with us] but the visas have been a problem for us as well. The people at the club have been working 24/7 trying to accommodate everyone," Lennon said.

"When you are looking at what we are having to go through - and it will be the same for Shakhter when they come here as well - then [introducing regionalised qualifiers] might be something they should look at.

"But the Champions League is the big event and I'm sure [UEFA] don't want to change the format too much.

"But certainly for the early rounds of the Europa League it is something that should be looked at, particularly for the clubs who have been left out of pocket for these games. It's a shame. It's not right. They have earned the right to be in the Europa League and they should be rewarded for it rather than be in deficit for it."

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