BRENDAN Rodgers, the Celtic manager, is hoping that Glasgow rivals Rangers can join his side in reaching the knockout stages of the Europa League for the good of Scottish football.

Both Old Firm clubs go into their penultimate matches against Rosenborg and Villarreal respectively tonight with a chance of qualification and securing European football after Christmas.

And Rodgers believes that if they can both do just that it will be good not only for the nation’s co-efficient, but also for the image of our game.

“Of course, the European game is becoming very difficult for countries like ourselves,” Rodgers said.

“So, if the likes of ourselves and Rangers can get through, it would be great for the nation, for both clubs, that’s what we want.

“It’s still very much our ambitions and I hope we can do that.

“We go into it and you look after yourselves and your own club, but for the bigger picture which is important for our football, it’s great if we can get as many teams as possible into European games.”

Rodgers takes his Celtic team to the Lerkendal Stadium this evening looking to gain Celtic’s first ever Europa League group stage victory in order to give his men a fighting chance going into their final Group B match against RB Salzburg in a fortnight’s time at Celtic Park.

The Celtic boss says the more pertinent statistic though is that his team are unbeaten in two visits to this ground in the past 16 months, and he believes he brings his side to Norway in much finer fettle than they were when grinding out the goalless draw they needed to progress in the Champions League qualifiers back in August.

“I’m not really worried [that we haven’t won a Europa League away match],” Rodgers said. “The stats are always rolled out for Celtic in Europe and it’s always notoriously difficult.

“That’s the simple reason behind it, but we are playing in a good way and we have clarity back into our game in terms of the roles and the expectancy of each player, what’s required to play at our level.

“That’s all you can do. Then we go in and give our best and have some real intent in our game to get a result.

“We’ve played well here. The first game we won 1-0 I thought our actual game was really good. Probably the last result here too was a good result to performance.

“That kind of typified where we were at the start of the season.

“But now we have clarity in our results, but also how we’ve been playing.

“I think we come here in a much better phase of our game and hopefully we can show that.”