Mjallby: Not just about the Celtic crowd

Celtic earned some impressive victories during the group stages. Photo: PA

Johan Mjallby knows Celtic cannot rely on the fabled atmosphere of Parkhead alone to carry them into the Champions League quarter-finals and must endeavour to keep the squad together throughout January's transfer window.

Neil Lennon's men were today part of the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League, with Juventus, Paris St Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all possible opponents.

Mjallby was quick to downplay the notion teams will fear travelling to Parkhead, where Celtic beat Barcelona en route to qualifying for the knockout stages, but knows the players thrive in the arena.

Asked if opponents will be wary of travelling to Glasgow, he said: "Or will they want to come and experience the atmosphere?

"Most of these teams have so many experienced players, they've been all around the world.

"For us it's just brilliant. We know when we play at home we have this atmosphere and the supporters behind us and obviously it's going to make us better. At home we can beat anyone.

"We don't fear anyone because we've taken a lot of confidence from the performances in the Champions League so far.

"The players know now they can do something. The first target was to go through from the group stage and now we're in the last 16."

Mjallby hopes Celtic's squad remains intact over January, with the last 16 of the Champions League an incentive for players like striker Gary Hooper, midfielder Victor Wanyama and forward Georgios Samaras to stay on.

"This should be a great incentive for them to stay here at Celtic and take us forward," Mjallby said. "You never know where it's going to take us.

"If we hadn't gone through and done as well as we have I think maybe some of the players who have done exceptionally well for us would maybe be interested to have another challenge."

Hooper, in particular has impressed, with Juventus the latest linked with the former Grays Athletic and Scunthorpe striker who has netted 13 times this season.

"I think Gary's got 18 months left on his contract and we're delighted and we want to keep him," Mjallby said. "He's shown that he can do it at the highest level, so I can understand where the interest is coming from.

"It's down to Gary and what his targets are and what he's looking for. The grass is not always greener on the other side."