Celtic striker Moussa Dembele has maintained that there is no question about his focus as the Parkhead side head off to Russia.

Brendan Rodgers’ side head to St Petersburg today for the second leg of their Europa League game against Zenit as they look to make it into the last 16 of the tournament.

They will do so with Dembele insisting that he is determined to end the season with a consistent run of form behind him.

Read more: Attack is the best form of defence for Celtic in Russia, says Olivier Ntcham

The striker had a difficult January as the transfer window interfered. At one point Rodgers insisted that Dembele was not playing as he had been affected by the speculation about his future before the club later insisted that they would not sell the French under-21 internationalist.

In the first leg against Zenit, Dembele was arguably one of Celtic’s better players. The manner in which he held the ball up and linked up with Callum McGregor suggested a player who is close to reaching the form he displayed in his inaugural campaign at the club.

Indeed, much of Dembele’s part in McGregor’s goal – a goal that has tipped the balance of the tie in Celtic’s favour – has been overlooked. In any case, the striker has his sights set on a productive finale to the season.

“It might have looked to other people outside that I was affected by speculation but that was never the case,” said Dembele. “It is not something that is new to me.

“I have been in this position many times in many career. For me, it is always about playing football and scoring goals.

“Nothing else matters to me. That is what my focus is. It is what it is now and it is what it will be until the end of the season.

“It has been difficult with the injuries but every player has injuries. It is just a part of football. But I feel good. I feel fit. I feel positive. I am always positive and I just want to go out and play.”

Dembele will be key to how Celtic set up against the Russians on Thursday night.

For all that the Parkhead side will feel that they are on the front foot heading to St Petersburg their lead remains slender. Celtic have not progressed in the knockouot stages of any European competition beyond this stage since 2004, a result that came about when they knocked out Barcelona in the UEFA Cup over two legs.

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At the risk of sounding like a caricature of a football satire, Celtic were disciplined and robust in their opening leg with a formation that moved fluidly with and without the ball; with it they effectively played a with a back three and two wing-backs, without it they reverted to a more traditional 4-4-1-1.

What was notable, though, was the tempo, aggression and energy, both with and without the ball at their feet. Some of that will inevitably be attributed to a Zenit side who had not played a competitive game since December but Celtic deserve credit for the manner in which they matched up to a side whose resources far outstrip their own.

Dembele has little interest in whether Zenit will be a different proposition this week on home soil. With temperatures expected to sit around -10, it will be a chilly reception for Celtic.

Whether their performance can heat things up a bit remains to be seen but Dembele has stressed that going into the tie with self-belief is necessary if the Parkhead side are to prevail.

“They are a very good side,” he said. “I don’t know if they were tired or not fit because they hadn’t played a competitive game. That is nothing to do with us.

Read more: Attack is the best form of defence for Celtic in Russia, says Olivier Ntcham

“I don’t know if they will play differently in Russia. But I do know that we will have the same spirit in Russia that we did at Celtic Park.

“It is a big game for us. We have got a really good result but we all know that it is only half-time. We have to be as clever as we were in the first leg. We worked together as a team and showed a lot of unity and that is what we have to do again.”

Scott Brown will be back for the game after serving a one-match suspension on Sunday as Celtic were held to a scoreless draw with St Johnstone.

And Dembele’s has praised the skipper’s influence when it comes to leading by example.

“He is our captain and he knows what we have to do,” said Dembele. “He is always out there and involved in everything on the pitch but we all know that we have a job to do.

“The reason why I think we have been a successful team is because we work for one another. That is what we will have to do against Zenit this week. It will not be an easy game. It will be another tough 90 minutes but we want to go and put on a performance and see where it takes us.

“Hopefully as a team we can play the way we did in the first-leg. Getting the same result would be nice too!”

Certainly, there is all to play for.