Celtic aim for title party finish

10 May 2013 12:46

Celtic striker Georgios Samaras is looking to finish the season with a flourish as the champions prepare to host St Johnstone in a title party at Parkhead on Saturday.

The Hoops will be presented with the Scottish Premier League trophy following their penultimate league game of the season.

The Glasgow giants have struggled for form since clinching their second successive title with several first team players being rested for the defeat against Motherwell and last week's draw with Ross County.

However, manager Neil Lennon will have a full squad to pick from for the match against St Johnstone as Celtic begin their preparations for the Scottish Cup final against Hibernian on May 26.

Victory at Hampden would deliver the domestic double for the Hoops, and alongside their achievement of reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, Samaras reckons it would make a special season an outstanding one.

"We have had some days off and missed some games but we have a full squad now and are looking forward to the game against St Johnstone," the Greek striker, who will collect his third title in six seasons at Celtic, said.

"It will be a great day for everyone. After all the hard work we have had all season - from the start of July to now is almost 10 months - and it's a day we can enjoy and the fans can enjoy the game with no pressure, and then we can have a nice celebration.

"We have had a very tough season with a lot of games and not much rest, and you need some rest to protect your body from injuries and I feel fresh again."

The Hoops are going for their 12th consecutive home win in the SPL, and their manager wants them to give the fans a title party to remember in their final outing at Celtic Park this season.

"Everyone's back," Lennon said. "The guys we wanted to have a break have had their break so it's been intensive training this week and we'll go really strong for the game on Saturday and hopefully we can celebrate with a great performance."

On Sunday, crisis club Hearts host Edinburgh rivals Hibernian at Tynecastle.

Hearts lead 10th-placed Hibs by one point, although the Easter Road side have a game in hand over their city rivals.

The three league games between the clubs so far this season have ended in draws but Pat Fenlon's side knocked Hearts out of the Scottish Cup on their way to the final.

Hearts future remains uncertain following bankruptcy proceedings against Ukio Bankas, to whom they owe £15 million.

And manager Gary Locke knows that the fans will be desperate to end the season with a derby win to give them something to cheer about.

"It would be great for the club to finish above Hibs," Locke said.

"But that isn't the target for me. The target is to finish the best of the rest in the bottom six.

"By beating Hibs that will help us along the way but it is going to be a difficult game.

"They have a cup final to look forward to and I know all the players there will be looking to try and impress Pat over the next few games.

"We want to be as high up the league table as we can and put behind us what has been a pretty disappointing season."

Elsewhere on Sunday, relegated Dundee take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park while Inverness Caledonian Thistle will hope to clinch a European spot with a win against Dundee United.



Celtic v St Johnstone, Kilmarnock v Dundee, Inverness CT v Dundee Utd, St Mirren v Aberdeen


Hearts v Hibernian, Motherwell v Ross County

Source: AFP