BRENDAN Rodgers has told his players to demand more of themselves in a bid to cure Celtic’s problems in front of goal.

The champions have managed five goals in their five Premiership games so far – none in their two away from Parkhead – which is a big drop off in comparison to the previous two seasons.

Rodgers wants to see more of a cutting edge from all his players, starting tomorrow night against Rosenberg when Celtic’s Europa League group stage campaign gets underway.

The Celtic manager said: “When we played Rosenberg before they sat in deep. In the first game in particular they were very deep and we saw a lot of the ball but couldn’t quite make the breakthrough.

“They took the lead with a good first goal and to be fair our response to that was excellent. We expect them to be compact, to be tight and so it’s up to us.

“This is an area where we have to significantly improve on. We need to get back to creating more opportunities. We have to demand a bit more from ourselves at that final third of the pitch. We have kept four clean sheets but we have to do more in the attacking areas.

“And it’s just not the attackers. That’s everyone. The speed of our game from behind, playing our passes quicker, playing forward and also taking more responsibility at the top end of the field.

“That is something we’ve been working on and something we want to take into this game.”

Rodgers’s side beat Rosenberg 3-1 in Glasgow and saw out a goalless draw in Trondheim in the second qualifying round of the Champions League.

The Norwegians were much further on in their season when the two sides met in August, which the Celtic manager hopes is a good sign heading into this match which will be played out at a packed Parkhead.

Rodgers said: “The difference here is we will be further ahead in terms of our fitness. When we played them last time it was right at the beginning of our season, so I’d like to think that now we’re a period of time on we are sharper in terms of our fitness.

“It still means it’s going to be a difficult game. We would like to start with a great crowd, we want the stands to be full – everyone of course wants the Champions League – but this is still a very important competition for us.

“I would say to the Celtic supporters to come out, give us your great support because that it is vital for us to do well.”

Rodgers has shaken off the disappointing of not reaching the Champions League proper and while earlier in the week talked down the chances of making the final, he hopes the past two seasons will give his players a major advantage going into these next six games against Rosenberg, FC Salzburg and RB Leipzig.

Rodgers said: “It’s an important part of our season, playing in Europe, for the development of our team, the individual players. It is something we have benefitted from over the last couple of seasons.

“There are some really good teams in the competition, we are in a good group and we would like to start with a good performance and a win. So we are looking forward to the game.

“I look forward to these nights. Part of the attraction of coming here was the possibility to playing in Europe with Celtic and no matter what competition it’s been in, it’s been absolutely fantastic.

“For me, it’s the start of another important campaign for us between now and Christmas. Our aim is to play well and show the experience we’ve got from our experiences over the last two years.”

HeraldScotland | Sport

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