Celtic handed boost as Cluj manager says he will be without his best player for Champions League third qualifying round first-leg

Celtic will face Romanian side Cluj in the Champions League third-qualifying round, and they have been handed a massive boost due to an injury to one of their opponent’s key players.

Manager Dan Petrescu revealed that veteran Argentine midfielder Emmanuel Culio will miss the clash’s first-leg to injury, and it’s a huge blow on the minnows’ chances of causing an upset.

“Culio is the best player in Cluj’s history. That’s my opinion,” he told The Scottish Sun.

“I am trying to take this team into the Champions League, but he’s told me he won’t be fit for the first leg against Celtic.

“And that’s an extraordinary loss for us.”

Cluj have already seen off Astana and Macabbi Tel Aviv, both of whom have bigger budgets than the Romanian outfit, and Neil Lennon side can’t afford to undermine their opponents.

Celtic made light work of Estonian side Nomme Kalju in the second qualifying round, securing a 7-0 win on aggregate, but didn’t find it particularly easy seeing off FK Sarajevo in the first qualifying round, winning 5-2.

Cluj stand between them and the play-off rounds, and the Hoops will fancy their chances, most especially with Culio missing the first-leg.

Making it to the group stages of the Champions League will come as a huge boost for Celtic after missing out last season.

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