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Sport David Turnbull insists young Celtic defence has full belief for Champions League as he delivers Michail Antonio quip

09:10  25 july  2021
09:10  25 july  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Last June, he ’d already recorded his signing interview, sat beside manager Neil Lennon in his new jersey, but the video never surfaced. Only a clandestine photo of Turnbull in green and white emerged over social media over the following days. In an interview with Motherwell’s website in March, Turnbull The player had also attracted attention from Norwich City last summer, but the doggedness of Celtic ’s pursuit convinced him that he would be truly appreciated at Celtic Park. There had been some rather embarrassing public sniping between Celtic and Motherwell because of transfer fees, but

Michail Antonio scored twice as West Ham won 5-2 away to Celtic in a friendly. Mark Noble, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen were also on the scoresheet. Celtic 's preparations for their crunch midweek Champions League qualifier against Midtjylland took a knock with a 6-2 friendly defeat by West Ham at Parkhead. Hoops skipper Callum McGregor curled in an early opener before Hammers striker Michail Antonio scored a quick-fire double and captain Mark Noble netted from the penalty spot.

David Turnbull was left wounded after Celtic took a sore one off West Ham at Parkhead yesterday.

a group of men playing a game on the court: David Turnbull says Celtic will bounce back against Midtjylland © SNS Group David Turnbull says Celtic will bounce back against Midtjylland

But the Hoops midfielder insists the damage suffered by the friendly defeat won’t curtail their fight for Champions League football.

Ange Postecoglou’s side warmed up for Wednesday night’s qualifying round second leg against Midtyjlland with a 6-2 scudding off the Premier League side.

It was a sobering experience for some of Celtic’s young players, particularly in defence, but Turnbull is convinced they won’t be left punch drunk by it in Denmark.

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He believes Postecoglou’s players showed enough quality in the 1-1 first-leg draw in Glasgow to give them confidence of Champions League progression.

Turnbull said: “That was a tough game against great opposition who showed their class. We just had to stick at it. West Ham are up there with as good a team as we’ve played – they showed that down south in the Premier League last season.

“They finished high up the table, they’ve quality players and it was good for us to test ourselves against that level of player.

“But I don’t think the defeat will affect our confidence too much ahead of Wednesday night.

“We got a good result in the first game here and we’re looking to build on that now.

“We’re looking to show the kind of form we showed in midweek in the return game.

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“And we’re confident of going through. We feel we should have won the first game against them.

“We just need to create again, take our chances and be a bit more clinical.”

Unfortunately for Celtic, the forward areas of the pitch aren’t where they’re struggling at the moment.

Their defence has been decimated, with Kris Ajer sold to Brentford last week, Nir Bitton suspended for the second leg in Europe, Christopher Jullien injured and new boy Carl Starfelt not yet ready.

a group of people playing a game of football: West Ham's Michail Antonio scores an equaliser to make it 1-1 during a friendly match between Celtic and West Ham United © SNS Group West Ham's Michail Antonio scores an equaliser to make it 1-1 during a friendly match between Celtic and West Ham United

That has left Postecoglou to rely on young rookie centre-back pair Stephen Welsh and Dane Murray.

Both were given the runaround by Hammers star Michail Antonio yesterday who helped himself to a double and won a penalty.

But the Celtic manager has few other options available.

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Celtic had agreed a fee with the Steelmen only for the club to struggle to agree terms with the player’s representatives, allowing Norwich to come in and agree the same fee in order to steal the 15-goal midfielder from under the Bhoys’ noses. But although the Motherwell player was in Norwich on Wednesday to agree terms on a deal, he completed a medical at Parkhead yesterday as he puts pen-to-paper on a four-year deal. And Northern Irish boss Lennon now wants to further bolster his squad with at least another couple of additions over the next two weeks.

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Video: Toney: No pressure on us (Sky Sports)

And Turnbull says the players have faith in the youngsters to produce a performance in Denmark.

He said: “When you’re younger it’s about doing as well as you can and proving everybody wrong.

“It’s about having no fear and just playing with freedom.

“We have faith in those boys 100 per cent. Welshy played most of last season and did really well every time he came in.

“And big Dane came in last week and did very well also. I’m sure he’ll build on that performance now.

“Antonio up front for West Ham has been a success in the Premier League and would be tough for any defence to deal with.

“We know what we’re up against in Midtjylland – and thankfully it’s not that.”

Postecoglou revealed that his team are finding it tough to master a new way of playing under him, while also finding a competitive edge that’s required to win games.

Deep down, he’ll know that Welsh and Murray aren’t ready to be thrown into big European games and take on Premier League opposition.

But he also vows no one at Parkhead will shy away from the challenge that lies ahead of them, domestically and in Europe.

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Despite adding new faces already, the huge rebuilding job Postecoglou has on his hands is still in progress but he won’t use that as an excuse.

He said: “Defensively we were poor all over the place. But we can address things because a lot of it is just that will and desire to compete.

Ange Postecoglou is swinging a racket at a ball: Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou during a friendly match between Celtic and West Ham United at Celtic Park © SNS Group Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou during a friendly match between Celtic and West Ham United at Celtic Park

“We’re at that funny stage where I’m trying to teach the players how to play the game a certain way and sometimes when that happens we forget that the competitive side is also important.

“You need both. I felt football was the priority and we forgot to compete.

“I can’t shield them from it. When you represent this club, you can’t shield people.

“Part of the process is to stand up when things aren’t going well and react in a positive way.

“You can’t go hiding – I’m not going to go hiding. The players have to stand up and take responsibility for whatever situation arises, both good and bad.

“You learn lessons but I’d rather learn lessons having a conviction about something rather than just acknowledging they’ve got some better individual quality. We just wasted an opportunity today.”

Postecoglou is visibly frustrated about the lack of progress with new signings.

He has managed to get deals over the line for Swedish defender Starfelt from Rubin Kazan and Japanese forward Kyogo Furuhashi – but neither is available yet for selection.

As for any Celtic player who doesn’t want to stay at Parkhead, the manager’s message is clear.

He said: “It’s just the way it is. I’m not bringing anyone in before Wednesday and I have to focus on getting a really good performance.

“I’m not about keeping people happy here. If they’re not happy then they can move on. Representing this club should give you joy and happiness.

“I’m not an entertainer. I’m here to create a culture that maintains the values and traditions of this club and also brings success – I’m not interested in people being happy.”

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