Published July 22, 2013
GLASGOW (AFP) – Kris Commons expects Celtic to show no mercy in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against minnows Cliftonville at Parkhead on Tuesday.
The Hoops already have one foot in the third qualifying round after they claimed a 3-0 away win in Belfast last week without a number of first team regulars.
And Neil Lennon's side welcome back a host of players from injury for the return in Glasgow, including Adam Matthews, Joe Ledley and last season's top scorer Gary Hooper.
New signing Virgil van Dijk could win his fitness battle while Amido Balde may feature after opening his account for Celtic with a goal in Saturday's friendly win over Brentford.
However, despite their large advantage, Commons is not taking anything for granted against the Northern Irish part-timers.
"Cliftonville are going to come and try to enjoy the experience and just play as though they have nothing to lose," Commons said.
"I don't think anyone expected them to win the first tie, but they are going to come and give it a go.
"I think an early goal will kill off the tie. For us on Wednesday, it was all about being professional and ruthless in front of goal and getting a good lead.
"It was a potential banana skin and it was important we got off to a good start."
Scotland international Commons expects Celtic boss Lennon will use the match as an opportunity for several players to prove their fitness.
"I think the manager wants to use the second-leg as more pre-season preparations," Commons said.
"There are still a lot of players coming back from injury. We have still got Joe Ledley to come back into the team, and Scott Brown is still trying to get back up to speed.
"So I think a lot of players will be itching to play We will be able to rotate and try to get the likes of Adam Matthews, Joe Ledley and the others who are not quite up to speed a game."
Celtic are likely to face a sterner test against Swedish side Elfsborg in the next qualifying round as they look to book a place in the lucrative group stage of the Champions League.
The Hoops have already sold influential midfielder Victor Wanyama since the end of last season and could be set to lose English striker Hooper, who is the subject of transfer speculation involving a move to either Norwich or QPR.
Despite both players being key in Celtic's run to the last 16 of last season's Champions League, Commons believes the current squad is still capable of competing.
"You could see on Wednesday that we are more than capable of winning. It's not like we are going to lose Gary and no one is going to score any goals," Commons said.
"It is important that Anthony Stokes now tries to take that mantle. We are going to lose Gary, so let's see if he can go and score 20 or 25 goals a season.
"Nor are we going to lose a presence in midfield just because Victor Wanyama has gone. If Scott Brown and Beram Kayal stay fit all season they are a tremendous partnership in there. They are very strong, very dominant."