Brendan Rodgers ahead of Europa League opener: We need ruthless streak

Brendan Rodgers wants his players to demand more of themselves in front of goal when Celtic take on Rosenborg in their opening Europa League Group B game on Thursday.

Brendan Rodgers ahead of Europa League opener: We need ruthless streak

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers wants his players to demand more of themselves in front of goal when Celtic take on Rosenborg in their opening Europa League Group B game on Thursday.

The Hoops drew a blank in their Ladbrokes Premiership clash with St Mirren on Friday night and the normally free-scoring treble champions have notched only five goals in five league games this season, as they sit five points behind leaders Hearts.

The Celtic boss is now looking for improvement from all his potential goalscorers as the focus turns to Europe.

On paper we have lots of players that can score but you don’t win the game on paper,” said the Irishman, who revealed Kristoffer Ajer is a big doubt with a virus while fellow defender Jozo Simunovic remains out with a knee injury.

“You have to win it on the field. We have to take those opportunities.

“I have always said possession is no good on its own. We have to have that penetration.

“But we have to be more demanding of ourselves now. That is our message.

“My trust in the players is 100%, they have been brilliant in the time I have been here.

“But we need to improve in the final third of the pitch. Defensively we have been solid in our last four games, keeping a clean sheet, but we need to do more in the attacking third of the pitch.

It is ensuring we have that energy and quality and being clinical to take opportunities.

“That is something that we have talked about and focused on in our training and will look to bring in these next games.”

Celtic knocked the Norwegian club out of the Champions League qualifiers last month with a 3-1 aggregate success, before themselves losing out to AEK Athens in the next round.

Rosenborg ended up qualifying for the Europa League, beating League of Ireland champions Cork City along the way, while AEK Athens dumped Celtic out of the Champions League.

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