Erik Sviatchenko says Kristoffer Ajer’s absence is good news for Midtjylland
The 23-year-old Norway defender has been left out of Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the first leg of the qualifier at Parkhead on Tuesday night with speculation linking him with a move to Brentford in the Premier League.
Sviatchenko played at Celtic between 2016 and 2018 when Ajer was taking early steps to becoming a highly-rated first-team regular at Parkhead.
He said: “Kristoffer has done an amazing job since he came in as a youth player back in 2016 and has been through so many great things with the club and has given his all with a lot of trophies and a lot of great performances.
“He has developed into a player who attracts interest.
“The Premier League clubs have an extra edge compared to the Scottish Premiership clubs so for him to develop and take the next step, he would need to play in the Premier League.
“So I’m really, really happy for him, especially because he has won so many trophies and done so many good things for the club.
“He’ll be a big miss because he has been a key player over the last couple of seasons. It’s good for us and not so good for Celtic.”
Sviatchenko, who won a domestic treble with Celtic in 2017, will take no notice of the Hoops’ demise last season when they finished the campaign without a trophy for the first time in a decade.
The Denmark defender said: “I think it’s normal in football that you go through a really, really good time and sometimes you go through a time of transition. I think Celtic are facing that [at the moment].
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a nice return, especially playing as captain for Midtjylland against my former club.”
There will be only 9,000 fans inside Celtic Park due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions but Midtjylland boss Bo Henriksen claimed a 60,000 full house could have put pressure on the home side.
He said: “It is going to be a challenge. The Scottish fans are crazy in a good way, in the good meaning.
“Even though there is only 9,000 there we know they will make a lot of noise.
“We had hoped there could be 60,000 but it couldn’t be because of the situation but at the end of the day it could be good for Celtic not to play with 60,000.
“In the position Celtic are in now, we could go to half-time leading 1-0 and you know the Celtic supporters, sometimes they can be a little bit unsatisfied.
“But we know we have to deliver, we have to play above average to get a good result in Glasgow and we will do everything we can.”