JUST how important tonight’s Europa League curtain call against Real Betis is for Celtic is debatable, certainly from the point of view of their aims for the season, which no longer include any hope of progress in this competition.

And for all that manager Ange Postecoglou has dismissed any talk of a dead rubber, he will certainly be taking advantage of the lowered stakes to rest some of his key men against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

But it is in the players who will be asked to fill those gaps where we may find where the real meaning lies in this fixture, with some fringe men sure to have their recent patience rewarded at last with a chance to shine under the Celtic Park disco lights this evening.

Postecoglou has made it clear what he expects from them, and that is a seamless transition and a maintenance of the standards his team have set during a sequence of 13 games with 11 wins, one draw and just the one defeat – the 3-2 reverse away at Bayer Leverkusen.

For those who are handed that opportunity to get a rare start, there is the incentive to prove they belong in the side on a more regular basis by grasping a chance to give their manager something to think about.

“It won’t be meaningless tomorrow,” Postecoglou said.

“It’s a good test for us and an opportunity to measure ourselves against a quality team.

“I’ll be making some changes and it’s an opportunity to rest some guys who have played a lot of football and to give others who haven’t played as much recently some game time. Playing against a quality team will be invaluable for us.

“The players who we put out are all Celtic players. They train with us every day and they represent this football club.

“We expect them to uphold our standards and play the football we want. It’s an important game.

“We’ve already had a couple of injuries and we have these games coming up – I need guys to be ready. You saw Liam Scales. He hasn’t played much but he came on for 15 minutes on Sunday and made a real impact.

“We need other guys to do that and this game is an opportunity to show they are ready.”

That’s not to say though that Postecoglou has told those players in advance who might get the nod in order to prepare themselves.

“They have to be ready every day, mate,” he said. “I’m not telling them when they are playing or not playing.

“There have been plenty of times in my coaching career when I’ve seen someone is not right on the morning of a game. I can't start approaching players when they are potentially getting an opportunity.

“They have to train every day like they are involved at the weekend or midweek, irrespective if they are in my plans or not. It makes no difference to me, whether they have been playing or not.

“You train today like you’re playing tomorrow, and that’s whether you are Callum McGregor or one of the young guys.

“The expectations are the same. No one is promised anything apart from, if they train hard and do the right things, then they can come back to training the next day.”

The importance of the game to the finances of the club may not be lost on one or two in the Celtic boardroom, with €630,000 on offer for a win and €210,000 for a draw.

Unsurprisingly, avowed football man Postecoglou doesn’t exactly have that incentive at the top of his priority list.

“I don’t have that at the forefront of my mind to be fair,” he said. “Perhaps the financial controllers at the club might be thinking the other way, but it’s not something I’m thinking about.

“It’s about freshening up as we have some big games coming up between now and the break that are very important for our season – including the Cup Final.

“I don’t know mate, you’ll need to do the sums. What is financially more important to the club, is it tomorrow night or what’s ahead of us?”

Certainly, most Celtic fans would agree at this stage in the Postecoglou reign that what the club has ahead of them is a bright future under his stewardship.

From the first game of this group campaign away to Real Betis - where a fighting and thrilling performance was let down by sloppy defending as Celtic were edged out by the odd goal in seven - to now, Postecoglou believes he has seen some of the seeds he planted way back in the summer begin to be sown.

“Look, I think we have made progress in European competition,” he said. “Obviously, domestically as well.

“From where we started a while ago against Midtjylland the team has obviously evolved and every game we’ve kinda got a little bit more self-belief in our football, against really good opposition.

“We’ve had it pretty tough in our group, You are talking about Leverkusen, who are in third spot in the Bundesliga, Betis third spot in La Liga and Ferencvaros top of their league. It’s been a really good test for us with pretty much a new team and I think we’ve made progress in every game we’ve played.

“In the start of the last game I thought we played really well and then after there were parts we got punished, and then we emerged from that. As each game has gone on I think we’ve sorta made a little more progress in terms of the team we want to be."

Whether they ever get to the point where Postecoglou is satisfied though is unlikely.

“It’s an endless road, mate, so it’s hard for me to tell you now where we are at because I don’t know where we are going to end up," he said.

"My hope is we’re going to have success at this football club. What that success looks like I’m not going to put a limit on it, a cap on it.

“I’ll not try and tell you ‘this is where I see us in a year or two years’ because the way I’ve managed my whole career is if I started making targets then you succeeded in making those targets, then you are left scratching your head about why you sold yourself and your team short.

“I’m not going to sell this group of players or my team short by saying where our end point is. There is no end point. It’s just an endless road to improve and us trying to create some special moments for this football club and ultimately have success. That’s it.

“Are we further down that endless road than we were at the beginning? Absolutely. We have set some markers down and we are progressing for sure.”