Kare Ingebrigtsen: Fitness levels will be key for Rosenborg against Celtic

25 July 2017

Boss Kare Ingebrigtsen believes Rosenborg's fitness levels will be key in their Champions League third round qualifier against Celtic.

The Norwegian outfit are top of the Eliteserien after 17 matches - losing twice - while the Hoops have yet to start the defence of their domestic title and have played just two qualifiers against Northern Irish part-timers Linfield, whom they thrashed 6-0 on aggregate.

Ingebrigtsen, whose side required extra-time to see off Dundalk from the Republic of Ireland in the previous qualifier, believes the Scottish champions are favourites to go through into the play-off but is hoping the difference in match practice proves crucial.

Speaking at Celtic Park head of the first leg, the former Manchester City midfielder, said: "For us it is good that the season hasn't started yet in Scotland.

"We have played 17 games and we have improved throughout the season and hopefully we are at our best tomorrow.

"History shows that it is an advantage for Rosenborg to be halfway through the season and all the opponents we meet - except Dundalk - struggle because it is really early in the season for them.

"Hopefully Celtic aren't at their sharpest. But we can't just defend, we have to create problems. The away goal is really important to us so we are coming here to score a goal."

Celtic will be without banned striker Leigh Griffiths while Moussa Dembele is a doubt with a hamstring injury.

The possibility of Rodgers being without his two central strikers gives Ingebrigtsen encouragement.

He said: "They are great players but I looked at the squad of Celtic and they have 40 or 50 players and they have some good players.

"Both those players scored over 20 goals last year and of course they will miss them. Hopefully they don't play."

Ingebrigtsen, however, got little encouragement from former Celtic boss Ronny Deila.

His fellow Norwegian was replaced by Rodgers last summer, returning home to manage Valerenga.

Somewhat tongue in cheek, the Rosenborg boss said: "Ronny didn't give me much. I think he is more of a fan of Celtic than of Rosenborg so I don't trust what he said to me.

"But it was more about what we can expect at Celtic Park. The rest of it, he just told me to do my job."

Skipper Mike Jensen believes Rosenborg will need to show courage at Celtic Park, especially during the expected early onslaught.

He said: "It's a big challenge for us. They are maybe the best team we have played for a long time but we need to focus on ourselves.

"Everyone will agree that they are the favourites to go through but the best version of Rosenborg will beat the second best version of Celtic.

"We will have chances and I hope we have the courage to take them. We will have a go. It's not in our style to defend deep for 90 minutes.

"Courage is the key word for us. There are going to be periods in the game when the courage will be challenged, especially in the first 10 minutes.

"They will come out with a lot of energy and we need to handle that early pressure."