Ledley eyes Celtic Euro glory
Celtic to find out Champions League opponents on 20th July
Last Updated: July 10, 2012 9:32am
Joe Ledley: The midfielder says Cetlic can concentrate on Europe as they have less competition in the SPL
Joe Ledley is backing Celtic to take the Champions League by storm this season as they will not have the distraction of facing bitter rivals Rangers in the SPL.
The Glasgow side were dumped out of the Europa League last term by minnows Sion before being given a second chance after the Swiss side were thrown out by UEFA for fielding ineligible players.
Their reprieve allowed Celtic to show what they could do against Rennes, Udinese and eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
And with Celtic not having to face stamina sapping derbies against their neighbours, who will ply their trade outside of the Scottish Premier League following their much reported financial problems, Ledley believes the Bhoys can save their best football for the cream of Europe this season
"This time we have the chance to qualify for the Champions League and that's a massive incentive after the loss of Rangers from our domestic competition," the 25-year-old Welshman told the Daily Record.
"The first qualifying tie has yet to be drawn but it will come before we've kicked a ball in the SPL and that's why our fitness levels have to be even better than they were last season.
"The players who had to gel last term have had a year together now and the squad is in fantastic shape, which it will have to be if we want to make it into the biggest club competition in the world.
"It's been four years since Celtic last made it to the group stages of the Champions League so that's a big incentive in itself.
"We have a young squad but we dealt with Europe in a satisfactory way last season when that seemed unlikely after the start we made against Sion.
"Now we're in a business where anything can happen on a round-by-round basis. I believe all of us gained from the experience of playing in that group.
"I mean, Atletico Madrid went on to win the competition and we ran them close at Celtic Park. And we didn't lose to the Italians or the French either home or away."
Celtic are guaranteed seeds for the third qualifying round which will take place on 31st July 31/1st August, with the second leg on 7th/8th August. Play-off round ties will take place on 21st/22nd August and 28th/29th August.