Gordon Strachan offers Celtic some Dutch courage for crucial Ajax trip

• Scotland manager backing Neil Lennon's men to win
• 'Celtic in the Champions League has helped Scotland'

Gordon Strachan has insisted Celtic can defeat Ajax in Wednesday's crucial Champions League match and offer a boost to his Scotland team in the process.

Celtic head to the Amsterdam ArenA for a fixture they must realistically take at least a point from if they are to progress from Group H. Neil Lennon's men defeated Ajax 2-1 in Glasgow a fortnight ago.

Celtic will later host Milan and take on Barcelona in the Camp Nou to complete their group fixtures with Strachan confident about the Scottish champions' prospects.

"I think Celtic can win on Wednesday and I think they can beat AC Milan," the Scotland manager said. "That's not just hoping; I definitely think they can beat them.

"They're a better team than Ajax at this moment. The Ajax team will develop; they look like a youth team – I don't think anybody has had a shave in that team. When you look at them and the Juventus team Celtic played last season, they were men.

"The Ajax team will develop in the next nine months, a year, into an exceptional team again. Ajax's problem, like most clubs, is they keep improving players then somebody buys them.

"At the moment I think Celtic have the strength and the knowhow to definitely get a result there, because Ajax are not in the best of form just now. And they can definitely beat AC Milan."

Strachan offered his thoughts as he named his Scotland squad for the upcoming friendlies against the United States and Norway. Three Celtic players – James Forrest, Scott Brown and Charlie Mulgrew – are in that party.

"There's absolutely no doubt about it, Celtic's experience in the Champions League has helped Scottish international football," Strachan said.

"Thinking back five or six years ago when Rangers were on a good run and got to the Uefa Cup final, that added to the Scotland squad as well.

"Apart from Celtic, the players don't have European football, which is a pity. I'm sure if they had it, they would definitely get better.

"It's not an arrogance, it's a confidence you feel. When you might have thought: 'Am I good enough?' It becomes: 'Yes, I am good enough.'

"I would love to get players with that experience staying in Europe longer. How to deal with it, things like travelling all the time and getting used to having less training sessions."

Strachan also explained how he will wait until Darren Fletcher is back in Manchester United's first team before re-selecting him for the international stage. Fletcher, the Scotland captain, has played only 13 matches since December 2011 as he battles a serious bowel condition. The midfielder did feature, though, for United's under-21 team last week and is closing in on a first-team comeback.

"I think we just leave him," said Strachan. "The thing I'm looking for is his first game with the United first team and that will signal to us that then we come on board."

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