Burns spells out Celtic's strategy

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The Independent Online
Tommy Burns faces his biggest examination since taking over at Parkhead 15 months ago when his Celtic team meet Paris St Germain in the European Cup-Winners' Cup second round first leg tie in Paris tomorrow.

PSG have reached the semi-finals of all three European tournaments over the past three years, culminating in last season's Champions' League exit at the hands of Milan.

George Weah and David Ginola may have departed but Luis Fernandez's team still represent a huge obstacle in Celtic's bid to reach their first European quarter-final for 16 years.

Celtic have injury doubts over Tosh McKinlay and Simon Donnelly. Full- back McKinlay has a thigh strain while midfielder Donnelly has a pulled calf muscle. If the experienced McKinlay does not recover in time to play, Burns will go with youngster Jamie McQuilken who has done well in recent first team outings.

"Jamie has been doing well so I would have no problem with putting him in," Burns said. "Besides the young players need experience but can only get that if they play.

"I want my players to go there and not be frightened of the occasion but to attack it. This will be a real test and will let us see what we have in our squad."

Burns has better news in the midfield, with Phil O'Donnell likely to be fit after playing in the reserves in midweek and training during the week.

Burns added: "Phil has every chance of playing, because this is a game where I feel his style could be to our advantage.

"The Scottish people are aggressive by nature and like their football of the raw meat variety but too often in the past we have been found out in Europe.

"I am trying to get my players to see the game in terms of the full pitch and to get a better understanding of the game.

"They are beginning to play the way I want, and as time goes on they will get better at it while we are working at getting a cutting edge.

"We are keeping good possession of the ball and I don't think we will change from that too much because that is a quality which is vital in Europe where teams can break quickly if you lose possession.

"We are under no illusions they will be a good side because they have a lot of quality players although I believe they are not perfect and can make mistakes.

"We will go there trying to score a goal because it's very important in Europe that you take something from the away tie."

Brian McLaughlin, Celtic's 21-year-old winger, is relishing the prospect of his Paris match."This is the kind of match you dream about as a kid," said McLaughlin, who only broke into Celtic's first team in the second half of last season.

"I've played in France for Scotland at the Toulon Under-21 tournament but I've never been to Paris. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere.

"From what we know, PSG are good going forward. We can only hope they may leave one or two spaces for us to exploit if that happens."

Fellow youngster Simon Donnelly, just 20, is also excited the prospect of facing the French in the Parc de Princes stadium where Scotland's rugby team triumphed earlier this year.

"I think Thursday will be the highlight of my career," Donnelly said. "It's a chance to play against some of the best players in the world and gauge yourself against them."

PSG go into the match lacking confidence. They have not won in their last three games and drew 0-0 at Lyon over the weekend despite the opposition's goalkeeper being sent off after 20 minutes.