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Celt stars rally around Tonev

Skipper Scott Brown insists the Celtic dressing room is right behind race row winger Aleksandar Tonev.

The Bulgarian winger - on loan from Aston Villa - was suspended by the Scottish Football Association for seven matches for using ''offensive, insulting and abusive language of a racist nature'' towards Aberdeen defender Shay Logan when the two teams met in September.

Tonev (right) missed the 1-0 home Premiership win over Inverness at the weekend but travelled to Romania with the rest of the Hoops' squad for the Europa League clash with Astra Giurgiu tonight.

Celtic appealed the decision yesterday and at the Hoops' pre-match press conference in Bucharest, the Scotland midfielder offered his thoughts on the issue.

He said: "We all stick by him. We know he didn't say it, so I think that's the main thing and all the lads in the dressing room believe him.

"I don't think he needs to explain himself. We all believe him, he says he didn't do it and we stand by him.

"We know Aleksandar doesn't come in and lie. He talks to everyone in that changing room so we have no problem."

Manger Ronny Deila, who watched striker Anthony Stokes turn up at the airport before getting sent home with a sore throat and a fever, also remains steadfast behind Tonev, although he admits it will be easier to play him against Astra than against Aberdeen at Pittodrie at the weekend.

He said: "We will talk with him. I think it is easier to play in Europe than to play in Scotland right now, because of what is happening and also because it is also against Aberdeen, so it will be tougher to play than right now.

"I don't think anyone in Romania is interested in that case.

"I understand that it is a tough situation for him and the club. We have put in the appeal and hopefully we get that right because this is a very hard penalty when it is word against word, and we believe the player."


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