Mulgrew sets sights on run in Europe

PA Sport
Charlie Mulgrew
Charlie Mulgrew

Charlie Mulgrew has targeted Champions League qualification as the next stage of Celtic's evolution.

The Hoops are runaway winners of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and go into Thursday's game against St Johnstone 21 points clear of Rangers, albeit their Old Firm rivals were deducted 10 points for entering administration. Their reward is two Champions League qualifiers and manager Neil Lennon has already spoken about adding players to his squad.

Mulgrew has his sights set on next term too, and wants to build on this season's Europa League campaign when the Hoops won only one of eight games to finish third in their group. The 26-year-old defender said: "Each year you want to do better. Next year we would look to win the league again but a run in the Champions League would be great."

He added: "It is important to do everything we can to prepare for the qualifiers and get in among that again. That would be massive for everyone here.

"I think we proved this season in a tough group that we can compete in Europe. Apart from one or two decisions that didn't go our way, we could maybe have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League.

"So, of course, if we believe in ourselves and if we prepare right, there is no reason why we can't but we need to see who we get drawn against and take it from there."

It has been a remarkable season for the former Wolves and Aberdeen player, who started his career at Celtic.

He won his first Scotland cap in February, playing at left-back in the 1-1 friendly draw in Slovenia. Mulgrew picked up the Parkhead club's player of the year award on Sunday night, hours after scoring his first Old Firm goal in the 3-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead, and is on the shortlist to win the same award from his PFA Scotland colleagues this weekend.

Speaking at the club's Lennoxtown training ground where he was modelling Celtic's new black away kit, Mulgrew said: "Scoring against Rangers was the the one thing I hadn't done, it was always in the back of my mind, and to do it was massive. It was something I always dreamed about doing and it was a great feeling.

"But there is definitely room for improvement in my game. I am always critical of my performances and tend to look at the things I could do better so I will be like that next year and hopefully kick on again."

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