Cameron Carter-Vickers convinced Celtic can BEAT Bayer Leverkusen and enhance Europa League qualification prospects

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The American centre-back has nailed down his position in Ange Postecoglou’s starting XI so far this season

Cameron Carter-Vickers is convinced Celtic can stun unbeaten Group G leaders Bayer Leverkusen in front of their own supporters tonight and enhance their prospects of Europa League qualification.

Ange Postecoglou’s side suffered a 4-0 defeat to the Bundesliga giants in the reverse fixture in September but have since revitalised their hopes of finishing in second spot with home and away victories over Ferencvaros.

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A nine-match unbeaten run has sparked belief in the Hoops camp and Carter-Vickers is confident they can produce a shock against the Germans who have won just two of their last eight games.

The centre-back, who has impressed with his composure on the ball and imposing physical presence since joining on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, said: “It will be a big test for us.

“Bayer Leverkusen are a very good team playing in a top league. They’ve got good attacking players, so it will be a tough game for us but one we’re looking forward to.

“We don’t look too much at their form, we know their strengths. I think we’re on a good run at the moment and have got momentum behind us, so it’s down to us to keep that going.

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“We’ve got belief in the squad from our last few games that we can go over there, play our football against teams like Bayer Leverkusen and a get a positive result.

“It was a disappointing result to lose 4-0 to them at Parkhead but in the early stages we had a couple of chances.

Florian Wirtz fires past Joe Hart during Bayer Leverkusen's 4-0 win at Celtic Park on September 30. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Florian Wirtz fires past Joe Hart during Bayer Leverkusen's 4-0 win at Celtic Park on September 30. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Florian Wirtz fires past Joe Hart during Bayer Leverkusen's 4-0 win at Celtic Park on September 30. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“If you look at the goals they scored, most of them came on the counter-attack and that’s something we’ve looked at in depth and something we’re determined to try and fix.

“When we have the ball we need to make sure our organisation behind it is good.

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“It’s important (to progress in Europe). We will be playing European football after Christmas but for us it’s about trying to play at the highest level we can.

“Obviously while that opportunity is still there for us to progress out of the group, that’s what we want to try and do.”

Carter-Vickers has started every competitive fixture at the heart of the Celtic defence since his arrival in August.

Now in his SEVENTH loan spell, the 23-year-old has noticed significant signs of improvement in Postecoglou’s side now that the club’s summer signings have settled into life in Glasgow and are playing regularly with each other.

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He added: “It always helps when the manager has confidence in you and believes in you. It gives you that added confidence to go out there and play your game, so that’s helped me massively.

“The way the manager wants to play can sometimes maybe leave us a bit exposed but that’s something we need to learn and find ways to cope with.

Cameron Carter-Vickers in action for Celtic against Ferencvaros.Cameron Carter-Vickers in action for Celtic against Ferencvaros.
Cameron Carter-Vickers in action for Celtic against Ferencvaros.

“I think we’re continuing to improve. When I first got here, there were a lot of new players. We’ve got a lot of different players from all over the world and we’ve all come together and it’s a nice environment to be around.

“You look at the defenders we have and everyone individually is a good player. It just takes a bit of time defensively to build them partnerships up and get used to playing with each other.

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“The more you play with players and the more you play in a new system you get used to it and I think that’s starting to show now.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. All of our players are enjoying their football at the moment and being around the training ground. That just helps to build more confidence.”

Carter-Vickers highlighted the quality of winger James Forrest, who stepped off the bench to score the winner during the Hoops Premier Sports Cup semi-final on Sunday, as a key component for the team moving forward.

He admitted: “I think James (Forrest) will be a big player for us. He’s a good player with great quality on the ball.

“He’s got intelligent movement like he showed against St Johnstone, scoring the winning goal. That’s what he will bring more of.”

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