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Maloney rejects talk of a crisis at Celtic

Shaun Maloney dismissed any notion of a crisis at Celtic ahead of the crunch Europa League clash with Hamburg at Parkhead on Thursday night.

After a 2-1 defeat by Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel on matchday one, and a 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna at Celtic Park at the start of the month, the Hoops are bottom of Group C and under pressure to take all three points against the German side if they are to have a realistic chance of qualifying in to the knockout stages.

Tony Mowbray's men approach the game somewhat downcast, though, after a goalless draw against Motherwell on Saturday. The Celtic players were booed off at the end of a frustrating game which saw them surrender their place at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League to Old Firm rivals Rangers.

However, responding to a question from a German journalist about talk of a crisis at Celtic Park, the Hoops midfielder retorted: "I don't know so much about a crisis. We obviously drew at the weekend but hopefully things will start clicking again, especially at home, and hopefully it starts tomorrow.

"We would not have hoped to drop points in the games that we have dropped points in, in the league and in Europe, but we still believe that we can pick up points away from home. In the last game against Motherwell we missed a numerous amount of chances and, to be fair, it was the same against Rapid Vienna. We have been creating a lot of chances and maybe it is our finishing that needs to improve if we are going to turn some of these draws into wins.''

Maloney added: "I don't know if it's win or bust because there are still three games after this. But after the Rapid result, a win would be massive for us. We haven't won yet in this group and our home games are pretty important so it is a big game for us.''

Mowbray's side have won only two out of seven home games since he took over from Gordon Strachan in the summer. The fans' disgruntlement appears to have spilled over into the much-maligned European competition with less than 40,000 tickets thought to be sold so far for the visit of the Germans.

The Celtic manager, however, urged the Hoops fans to make their way to Parkhead to roar his players on to what would be a morale-boosting victory. "The supporters have been coming to European occasions for a long time and it's another big game for us,'' he said. "It's an occasion where they should come along and hopefully cheer the team on to a great victory with an understanding that we are playing against an accomplished, high-quality team.

"But hopefully, together, we can overcome them as we have in the past against teams with far bigger resources and bigger-name players. That is what is going to be needed on Thursday night. We are probably going to have to punch above our weight and it's a great challenge for us but hopefully the supporters will come along and play their part.''


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