Loovens: Euro tie not over

GLENN LOOVENS admits Celtic will be relying on football’s habit of throwing up “strange” outcomes when they attempt to overturn a 3-0 deficit in the second instalment of their Champions League tie with Braga.

Like manager Neil Lennon, Loovens insists the Hoops’ third qualifying round clash is not over, despite Wednesday’s crushing defeat at the AXA Stadium.

But the Dutch defender acknowledges it will take an epic turnaround to prevent his side crashing out of Europe’s premier club competition and into the Europa League play-offs.

“Everything happens in football,” the 26-year-old said. “We still have a game to go, but three goals is quite a lot. Like I said, though, strange things can happen in football.”

Asked if he thought the new-look side — containing summer signings Joe Ledley, Charlie Mulgrew, Efrain Juarez and Cha Du-Ri — could gel in time to for the second leg, Loovens said: “We will see. After this performance, you would like to think so. We need to step up quickly.”

Loovens branded the manner in which he and his team-mates conceded two goals in the final 15 minutes as “a joke”.

Loovens said: “It was not good enough for the Champions League.

“How we gave the last two goals away was a joke.”

Irish international Aiden McGeady took part in a training match at Lennoxtown yesterday after being left out of the squad on Wednesday. The winger’s absence fuelled speculation he is on the verge of being sold but Lennon insisted he had a back injury and could play in the second leg.

Meanwhile, Swindon are in negotiations with Simon Ferry and Paul Caddis after Celtic accepted a second bid for the pair.

A new deal believed to be in the region of £350,000 (€418,000) including various add-ons has been agreed, although the official figure will be undisclosed.

One man who will be at Celtic this season is Israeli international Beram Kayal. Kayal completed his move from Maccabi Haifa yesterday.

The central midfielder brushed aside suggestions that his move to Glasgow on a four-year contract had been spoiled by the result in Portugal.

“I came here so happy, so excited,” Kayal said. “I’m just thinking about the moment I get on the pitch and play for the Celtic fans. I’m happy to play for one of the best clubs in the world.’’

Meanwhile Paddy McCourt is on the brink of agreeing a two-year extension to his current Celtic deal.

The Northern Ireland international had a year of his contract to run but the new deal – which is “close” to completion – will keep him at Parkhead until 2013.


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