Celtic V Dundee at Celtic Park : Match Preview

21 September 2012 05:01
Celtic V Dundee - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Euro ties have filled derby void - Lennon Neil Lennon believes the Champions League has filled the void at Celtic left by the absence of Old Firm rivals Rangers from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League this season. Saturday would have been the first Old Firm derby of the 2012-13 season had Rangers not been relaunched in the Irn-Bru Third Division following their financial collapse. Instead, Dundee, who took Rangers' place after finishing runners-up to Ross County in the First Division last season, will visit Parkhead to take on a Celtic side who began their Champions League group campaign with a goalless home draw against Benfica in midweek. In addition to the return trip to Lisbon, the Scottish champions have matches home and away against Spartak Moscow and Barcelona to look forward to over the coming months. Lennon claimed it was those big European games which, in football terms, will make up for the loss of four Old Firm derbies this season. "I haven't detected much of a difference," said the former Celtic skipper, when asked what impact Rangers' absence from the SPL has had. "Eventually you move on. There has been a hole there but it is up to other clubs to fill that void. "The games have been very competitive, the crowds have been good, and some of the football has been good. "So at the minute, in terms of finances we will miss the four Old Firm games but it is not a huge loss from a footballing sense because obviously the European games will make up for that." Dundee, who were invited into the top flight at the last minute, are struggling at the bottom of the SPL table with four points from six games. Lennon knows his own side have also struggled for league form this season. He questioned his squad's attitude following the 2-1 defeat by St Johnstone in Perth last week which left the champions in fifth place with eight points from five games, and he is hoping that shock result will ensure there is no repeat against Dundee. Striker Miku (calf) and defender Mikael Lustig (hamstring) are doubts while winger Paddy McCourt returns from a knock. Skipper Scott Brown will again play despite an ongoing hip problem. Filip Twardzik (groin), Anthony Stokes (ankle), Georgios Samaras (elbow), Beram Kayal (ankle) and Joe Ledley (groin) remain out but Lennon is hoping the latter two are back for the Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on October 2. Dundee manager Barry Smith has told his team to cut out the mistakes. The newly-promoted Dens Park club face what promises to be their toughest test since winning promotion back to the top flight. Smith watched his spirited side slip back to the foot of the SPL table last weekend after a late collapse saw them lose against league leaders Motherwell, having been in front for much of the game thanks to Colin Nish's first-half opener. And Smith knows they cannot afford to be so slack when they go to tackle the Hoops on their own turf. He said: "It's important we stop giving away goals. I keep saying it because it's true. "It cost us again against Motherwell when we had done so much right throughout the 90 minutes. "Sometimes one slip or lapse in concentration can prove all the difference at this level and none more so than when you face a quality team like Celtic. "So the boys knows first and foremost they'll need to be on their toes from the first whistle. "If they can do that then we will give ourselves a chance of getting something from the game which is what it's all about as far as we're concerned." Smith has also urged his players to show they belong at this level by giving Celtic plenty to worry about. He said: "I know the guys here are good enough for this kind of game so it's up to them to prove it. "We won't be going there to defend and see what happens. "Instead we'll go to Parkhead in a positive frame of mind and hopefully that will be reflected in what we do on the park. "Nobody outwith our camp expects us to get anything but we hope that can work in our advantage. "We have a group of very hard-working players who will give their all as usual come Saturday. "I think the fans have appreciated what we're trying to do so far this season so they need to stick by us. "This is the kind of game the club has missed since we were out of the SPL for years and we have to try to make the most of it.". end

Source: PA