IF there were questions asked of Celtic in December, their response has been fairly unequivocal.

Neil Lennon’s side have

netted 27 goals in eight games, conceded three and opened up a 10-point lead at the top of the table. The game in hand that Rangers had going into the winter break has been reduced to a mere statistical note; few would genuinely expect the Ibrox side to claw back the ground they have lost in recent weeks.

But if domestic matters have been enhanced in the light of

recent results, the focus switches again. Celtic added a footnote to their recent European records with their haul of 13 points, the biggest return of any Scottish side in the tournament.

Former Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko will struggle a

little with mixed feelings as he watches Celtic in action against his compatriots on Thursday evening, but he has acknowledges that the momentum the Parkhead side will take into the game could be huge against Copengahgen.

The Danes played their first competitive match in two months on Friday evening with the current situation a reversal of what Scottish teams deal with in early summer European qualifiers when Scandinavian teams are generally ahead of the curve.

“In many ways it feels a lot like when we were at Celtic and would have very early Champions League qualifying games,” said the Midtjylland player.

“It can be hard to go straight into that when you have not been playing competitive football for a few months.

“I am not too sure how it will affect Copenhagen that they have not played. I have also been watching Celtic and the response since they have come back in January has been excellent, which is what I expected.

“Copenhagen will be a tough team. They are our rivals for the title and it is very close just now – just four points at the top between us – but they are missing a few players also because of injury. I don’t think it will be an easy game for Celtic but I think the way they have been playing will definitely give them a lot of confidence.

“It will be a good atmosphere because all the tickets have been sold for the game. But it is not as big or as noisy as Celtic Park so I am sure they will just enjoy the atmosphere.”

Despite being rivals for the Danish title this term, Sviatchenko insists that in normal circumstances he would have been cheering on his countrymen. But his ties with Celtic and the affection he has for Glasgow have ensured that he will be watching the game mostly through green-tinted specs.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” he said. “On the one hand, I am proud of my country and I am proud of Danish football. It is obviously a big thing now to progress in the knock-out rounds of the Europa League and there is a lot of positive

attention that comes from that.

“Celtic are a big scalp, too, so I can see why it would be a good thing for Danish football to win the tie and go on to the next round. But, on the other hand, I am a Celtic fan too! I loved my time with the club. I had some great times at Celtic and I am still very friendly with so many of my old team-mates.

“I would love to see them go on in the tournament – and who knows how far they could do? So it feels like a very strange game for me. I will watch it. I think I probably want Celtic to win just because of what the club means to me. I will always consider myself a Celtic supporter.”

Copenhagen will be without Denmark internationalist Viktor Fischer who was injured at the club’s winter training base in Portugal. He is the latest player added to a list that also has Jonas Wind, Nicolai Boilesen and Robert Mudrazija out.

The versatile Jens Stage is just coming back to fitness after being out while experienced Icelandic internationalist Ragnar Sigurdsson is also just coming back after being sidelined.

Ultimately, though, it is the experience that Celtic have that Sviatchenko anticipates may be the difference over the two legs.

“Celtic are a tough team mentally,” he said. “They have so many winners in the team and they have players who can deal with the pressure of playing at Celtic.”