THE glitzy and rather empty city of Astana is a fairly unique part of the world and for Celtic their match tonight in Kazakhstan is also something of a one-off.

Champions League play-offs are supposed to be beyond tense and yet only a Devon Loch of a performance is going to deny them entry to European football’s VIP club. Let’s be honest, no Brendan Rodgers’ team is going to allow a five-goal lead to slip away.

If this were a game of golf, Astana would pick up Celtic’s ball on the green thus conceding the match. There is still some work to do but the players will have tougher tests ahead of them than this remote capital city.

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Glasgow Times: Sing a song for James! Brendan Rodgers urges Celtic fans to show Forrest more love

Rodgers hasn’t thought of who he could get in the draw “I have more important things to do…I can think about it on the plane” all he is concerned about is getting on that flight tonight with nothing silly having happened. It won’t.

The manager has constructed as strong a Celtic squad as the supporters can recall. He wants to keep it together, not sell off anyone, from the superstars to players who perhaps don’t get as much recognition but who are invaluable to him.

And this brings us to James Forrest.

For someone who divides opinion, and probably always will, the winger has been a huge player for Celtic on this stage. His goal against Astana last week and the winner in Rosenborg being the case in point.

Even with Patrick Roberts on the way, Rodgers sees Forrest as one of his go-to guys when it comes to European matches. He just wishes ‘wee Jamsie’ got a bit more love.

“I think we get players that are undervalued and underrated a wee bit,” said Rodgers and he also referenced Callum McGregor. “You look at James Forrest, I know he is in the Scotland squad but he’s a player who I haven’t heard a song for yet, you know.

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“You get some who are fantastic players. Okay they’re not sexy maybe and they’re not running up the crowd and sliding on their knees and all that, but they are good guys, very modest and very humble. They come in and do their job, they come in and do their work, and I can only talk about my players.”

The key for Celtic is that the players get Rodgers. They have totally brought into how he wants them to live and play their football. The problem is that richer but not bigger clubs have noticed this and they tend to have deep pockets.

This is not something which keeps Rodgers up at night.

“We don’t have a great need to sell anyone,” he said. “That is the message. There is nobody really that we have to sell. I understand that what you will have now is a real focus on a lot of our players because of the level they are playing at and their quality.

“Managers and coaches looking from the outside in will think ‘wow these players are playing for a big club, dealing with pressure and dealing well with it’. And if they see they can do that they will know for sure that they would be able to play for their clubs. But we have no need to sell.”

It has been many years since this football club was in such fine shape in all departments. It is a difficult place to leave and when you see stories linking Burnley with Jozo Simunovic, the immediate reaction is to wonder why would you swap Glasgow for the bottom of the Premier League.

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“All the players are in a good place,” said Rodgers. “Like I’ve always said there will always be that moral issue in terms of finance and money that they can be offered elsewhere. But if any player ever leaves then the buying club would have to buy.

“There are no cheap players out of Celtic.

“They are playing at a top club at a good level - but I’ve had nothing in terms of players wanting to leave. When that time comes and we have to look at it we will do - but at this moment in time we’ve not had it.

“We are trying to build something. But I also understand the nature of it, the financial pull there will be for players.

“And okay, we qualified last year and hope to make the final step this year and that allows myself and the board to continue progressing the club forward because that’s the idea - constant improvement.

“But there is always going to be riches from elsewhere. With all due respect, even Neymar has left Barcelona for £198million.”

Rodgers has never approached a second-leg of any competition with a five-goal lead. Who does? He’s nearly there. Celtic are nearly there

“It is a unique situation but our approach is very much the same as it always is,” said the Celtic manager. “We want to stay focused and treat the tie like it’s zero-zero.

Read more: Nir Bitton: Nobody will want Celtic as the danger team in pot four after we ran Man City close and hammered Astana

“We want a good result here. If you look at our European performances in the main away from home, we’ve gradually got better. I think of Astana here last time, we drew, then Monchengladbach, we drew, Manchester City, we drew, and then Rosenborg we win.

“We’re creating a mindset, really, and no matter the conditions of the game we want to perform well and finish the qualification phase with a positive. Listen, our main objective from qualification is to qualify.

“But we always plan on winning a game and if we don’t win and fall short we’ll take a draw. Nothing really changes for us, in fact, if anything our concentration is even greater.

“The demands of the game will still be the same. We want to win the game and get a good result - that doesn’t change.

“But, of course, having an experience of last year and going through - it’s great credit to the players how they have adapted to the demands of qualification and the confidence with which they have played.

“We just need to finish the job.”