Ryan Christie eager for qualifiers to start


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Ryan Christie cannot wait for Celtic’s Champions League qualifiers to begin next month as he likes that prospect more than pre-season training.

The Scottish champions must negotiate four rounds of qualifying before they can join Europe’s elite in the group stage of the Champions League. Their journey begins on July 9 when they face Bosnian league winners FK Sarajevo in the first round of qualifying.

Celtic were beaten by AEK Athens in the third qualifying round last season and Christie admits the Bhoys are desperate to get back into the big time, while that isn’t the sole motivation for his eagerness to get things started.

“It is tough and it’s a quick turnaround, but I don’t think we’ll complain about it too much because its huge games you like to play in so early in the season,” Christie told Sky Sports News.

“It can help cut pre-season short a little bit and take away some of the running. Hopefully we can progress this year and if we do so we’ll be absolutely delighted.

“We’re desperate to qualify for Champions League football again so all the mind-set will be on that for now.” Christie missed the end of last season after suffering multiple facial fractures in Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final win against Aberdeen.

The 24-year-old is looking forward to working under Neil Lennon, with the Hoops boss now back in the dugout full-time after taking temporary charge in February when Brendan Rodgers walked out.

“Everybody’s made note of how well he did when he came in under the circumstances – he had zero time to put his own stamp on it,” Christie added.

“I think he’ll be definitely wanting to put a few points across and get us playing the way he wants to play, and hopefully that will put us in good stead going into these qualifiers.”

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