Ryan Christie knows the value of Celtic topping their Europa League group beyond avoiding a mid-December trip to darkest Romania.
Neil Lennon seems certain to rest all of his internationalists from the final group fixture against Cluj on December 12 which comes in the middle of a hectic run of domestic matches.
Four days after that match the Round of 32 draw will take place in Nyon with Celtic already assured of a place in the seeded half of the draw.
Over the last two season’s Celtic have been drawn to play Zenit St Petersburg and Valencia at this stage but in February they will be up against a group runners up or one of the four worst placed teams dropping in from the Champions League.
Another benefit is playing the first leg on February 20 away from home with the significance not lost on Christie who told The Sun:
To have a 100 per cent home record and the highest tally in a European group is a great achievement. We’re delighted with how it’s gone for us in Europe.
To be seeds in the next round is a massive boost. Obviously in this competition when you get past the group stages, there’s probably no such thing as an easy draw.
There are top-quality teams qualifying from the Europa League groups and coming in from the Champions League. Whoever we get drawn against, we’ll get a good team no matter what, but finishing top does help us.
There are big domestic games to come before that but when the draw comes around everyone connected with the club will be buzzing. I think after the way this group has gone we believe we can have a decent run in the competition now. It’s what you have to aspire to when you go into it.
On Sunday Christie will return to a familiar part of the country when Celtic head to Ross County, his first match in the Highlands as a Celtic player.