CELTIC may no longer be able to compete for major European honours as in years gone by, but the job of Parkhead manager remains as demanding as any in Britain or across the continent.

A crowd of well over 50,000 will flock to the East End of Glasgow tonight anticipating, not just hoping, to see the Scottish champions, who are in a strong position the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie with Cluj 1-1 in Romania last week, win and progress to the play-off with Slavia Prague.

Neil Lennon is accustomed to the intense pressure that will be on him and his team to succeed having spent a previous spell in the dugout and endured many similar evenings in the past. The occasion, though, will still be a stressful one for him.

Yet, Lennon at least knows that he will not need to shoulder the burden of getting the result and going through all by himself no matter what transpires during the course of the 90 minutes.

The fact that he has side full of on-field leaders who take matters into their own hands when standards fall short of what is expected was driven home in the Ladbrokes Premiership game against Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday when Kristoffer Ajer, despite being just 21, gave his team mates a talking to after he had netted to make the score 1-1.

“He was probably doing my job for me,” said Lennon. “Ajer has real leadership qualities and he’s showing that as well. Of course you’ve got (Scott) Browny and I think Jozo (Simunovic) has a bit about him as well. I think they’re a good bunch, I think the mentality of the group is good.”

The fact that no fewer than 10 players – Ajer, Ryan Christie, Odsonne Edouard, James Forrest, Leigh Griffiths, Mikey Johnston, Callum McGregor, Olivier Ntcham, Marian Shved and Scott Sinclair - have scored for Celtic in the seven competitive fixtures they have had to date in the 2019/20 campaign gives Lennon confidence going into the rematch.

“It can flip very quickly so we take nothing for granted,” he said. “We’re mindful of keeping a clean sheet. But we’re delighted with the way we’ve played and the goals, obviously. We look a threat and we’re making good chances, so we look to do the same again.”

Lennon has been able to make changes to the team’s style of play since being confirmed as manager on a full-time basis back in May and the number of goals Celtic have scored this term – they have been on target 25 times already – is a direct result of that.

“We try to get the ball into forward areas a little but quicker, shoot more and shoot quicker,” he said. “Sometimes we were looking for the perfect goal, but every goal is perfect in its own way. The strikers are in good form.”

However, Lennon is certainly not going to get complacent against opponents who scored twice against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel in the previous round despite the away goal his men netted last week.

“We’re looking to strike home that advantage,” he said. “There was enough in the game last week for me to think we can score and hurt them when we get the ball into certain areas. That gives me a lot of encouragement going into this game. The onus is on us to take the game to them as much as we can.

“But you can’t be over-confident. They scored two against Maccabi away, which isn’t an easy thing to do. So they can score. They rested the team again at the weekend, so there’ll be a freshness to them. And it (qualifying for the Champions League group stages) will mean a lot to them, as it does to us.”

Dan Petrescu’s charges took a decidedly robust approach to the first leg, but Lennon is optimistic Latvian match official Andris Treimanis will keep control of what is sure to be a full-blooded and tense encounter.

“I didn’t think they were over-physical,” he said. “There was one bad challenge on Scott Brown which warranted more than a yellow card. The game is physical, but if it gets over-physical then you expect the referee to deal with that.”

Petrescu has suggested that referees favour Celtic at Parkhead – a claim that few supporters of rival Scottish clubs would argue with – but his opposite number disagrees. “Not in Europe,” he said. “Our mindset will be good. We’ll try to take the referee out of the game and just focus on the way we want to play.

The treble treble winners created several scoring opportunities in the Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium in Transylvania last Wednesday evening and should prevail tonight if they can do so once again and convert them as well as cut out any careless errors at the back.