RONNY Deila, the Celtic manager, last night declined to be drawn into a war of words with Age Hareide, his Malmo counterpart, ahead of the second leg of their Champions League play-off in Sweden next week.

Hareide had claimed the reason his side scored an injury-time goal in the first leg at Parkhead on Wednesday night was because their opponents “didn’t have the legs for 90 minutes”.

But Deila, his fellow Norwegian, dismissed the inflammatory remarks by his compatriot as “funny” and “games” as he prepared for the Ladbrokes Premiership match with Dundee United at Tannadice today.

He also brushed off derogatory comments made by several Malmo players who described their opponents as “pigs” and “brats” in the wake of a first leg match they lost 3-2.

“I’ve seen Mr Hareide very high up and very low down in Norway many times,” he said. “He’s a funny guy and he tries to play these games and that’s something you just have to leave.

“Hopefully, he won’t ruin his own brain, that’s the most important thing. You need to ask him what kind of tactic that is.

“We are a very fit team and we played some great football on Wednesday and we’re really looking forward to Tuesday – it’s going to be a big game.

“We have to talk with our legs and that is what we have to do on Tuesday. There were a lot of things said in the media, but at the end it is about doing the performance that we need to do on Tuesday.

“If they want to prepare with a lot of things in the media they can do that, but we are going to concentrate on what we are going to do here inside the club.”

Deila added: “I’ve watched the game again and I didn’t see anything wrong. It was a fair game and remarks like that are just too low-level to comment on.

“It’s not the Celtic way to do that – it’s up to them if they want to talk about us. That’s too low level for us in Celtic. We will not go to that level.”

Asked what animal he would choose to compare Celtic to, Deila quipped: “Hopefully a pretty one. Lions! We are lions!”

Meanwhile, Deila has revealed the hamstring injury which Mikael Lustig, who was stretchered off in the second half of meeting with Malmo in midweek, is not as bad as first feared and stressed the right back could feature in the second leg.

“He (Lustig) is not going to be available for tomorrow but may be okay for Tuesday although that may be too early for him,” he said.

“But we’ve seen the scans and it’s not a big thing, which is very positive. We will see how he is tomorrow and on Sunday before we decide whether or not he travels to Sweden with us.

“He’s a very good player so, hopefully, we can get him back as quickly as possible. He’s been playing consistently well for a while now so we’re hoping that this is a small setback and not a big one. We have no other injury worries.”

Deila has been linked with Jason Denayer, the Manchester City centre half who was named PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year after a loan spell at Celtic last season, and Gary Hooper, the former Parkhead striker who has only made one appearance for Norwich this season.

He dismissed the link with Hooper but refused to expand upon his interest in taking Denayer back to Celtic for a second spell.

“We have our ears and eyes open all the time, everywhere,” he said. “We try to find good signings and do the best we can so that on September 1 we have a stronger squad than right now. I am aware of everything that is happening.”

“He (Denayer) is a Manchester City player, but if he wants to come back here and City wants it then of course it is something we look at. This (Hooper) is something that is new for me.

Deila also stressed he had not given up hope of the Scottish champions retaining the services of Virgil van Dijk despite the Dutch centre half being strongly linked with Barclays Premier League clubs Southampton and Stoke City.

“My hope is that he is going to stay here for longer and play the Champions League for us,” he said. “That is my goal and I know Virgil’s goal is to get us into the Champions League as well and then we will see what is happening.”