Reserved feelings

STEVEN SANDOR, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

The Celtic squad Toronto soccer fans will pay up to $150 per ticket to see play in tonight's friendly at BMO Field against Benfica will be nothing close to the team that played Arsenal in a Champions League qualifier last week.

The team arrived in Toronto with a decimated squad; because of callups to various national teams in a World Cup qualifying week, most of Celtic's regular starting 11 didn't make the trip. Not on the voyage are regular starting goalkeeper Artur Boruc, top midfielder Aiden McGeady, Greek striker Georgios Samaras, forward Shaun Maloney, plus defenders Gary Caldwell and Stephen McManus.

Even manager Tony Mowbray didn't bother to make the trip, he spent yesterday on the phones, discussing deals before the international transfer window closed.

"It's unfortunate that none of our international players could come with us," said Celtic assistant manager Mark Venus, who will run the makeshift squad in Mowbray's absence. "But we're all right with the squad we have."

Benfica, who played a league game Monday night, practised last night at BMO Field, about 24 hours after it played a meaningful game in Lisbon. Its top player, Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo, was also called in to national-team duty.

Celtic will use the game to showcase some of its prospects, including young American keeper Dominic Cervi, whose family will fly in from Oklahoma to see him on North American soil.

"For many of us (in the reserves), we get the chance to get back in the swing of things," Cervi said.

Cervi was a draft pick of the Chicago Fire but was brought into the Celtic camp after a solid run with the U.S. Olympic team in 2008. He needed to get his Italian passport to get his U.K. work permit, and tonight's game will be his chance to show his stuff.

Fans who go to the match can also look for young Irish prospect Willo Flood in midfield and Scottish teen James Forrest. Celtic staff raved about the progress of young Japanese prospect Koki Mizuno.

John Clark, who played sweeper for the 1967 Celtic team that won the European Cup and then beat AC Milan in Toronto in 1968 for what was then known as the CNE Champions Cup, said the young Celtic squad still has to defend the club's honour.

"They are going to be defending the Cup we won 40 years ago," said Clark, who has been with Celtic for 51 years and is now the club's equipment controller. "For the young players, this is where you learn your trade."

But, should soccer fans be paying top dollar to watch players learn their trade? According to the Celtic ticket sales area on the club's website, it costs 25 pounds for an adult to see the club play Dundee United ($44 in our currency) in Glasgow. Fans here will pay $40-$150 per ticket to see Celtic's reserves in action.


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