Celtic V Kilmarnock at Celtic Park : Match Preview

28 January 2014 05:01
Celtic V Kilmarnock - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Fisher not worried over Boyd threat

Darnell Fisher is unlikely to lie awake on Tuesday night worrying about Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd ending Celtic's unbeaten Scottish Premiership record at Parkhead on Wednesday.

The champions have gone 22 games without defeat in the league since the start of the campaign and have not lost a goal in their last nine league matches as they stride towards another title.

Killie's best hopes of an upset - or even scoring a goal - probably lies with former Rangers and Middlesbrough hit-man Boyd, who was called into the Scotland squad for the first time in three years for the friendly in Norway last November due to an impressive return to form this season which has brought him 13 goals so far for the Rugby Park outfit.

And although the 30-year-old's scoring record against Celtic is poor - he has only notched once against the Parkhead side - Hoops manager Neil Lennon revealed his admiration for a player who has grabbed 211 goals in Scottish football, saying: "He has always been a very good footballer and you never lose that knack of scoring goals."

However, when Fisher was asked at the club's pre-match media conference about Boyd, he replied: "He's an okay player but we have got a good back-four."

When eyebrows were raised at his evaluation of one of the most prolific attackers in the Scottish game, the 19-year-old right-back remained nonplussed.

"He's all right," he said, before going on to speak about Killie and the increasing pressure on Celtic's domestic records.

"I have seen a bit of them because obviously Jacko (Jackson Irvine) is on loan there, so I speak to him a bit but I haven't seen that much of them.

"As long as the run keeps going it is going to get harder each game.

"We are aware of it and we have to be on our toes at all times.

"For Fraser (Forster) and the back four, we want to keep as many clean sheets as possible.

"It is a big target to go unbeaten and we have gone 22 games so far, so hopefully it can continue.

"We are not putting so much pressure on ourselves.

"The manager stresses to us that the league will take care of itself, and that we need to keep unbeaten, keep winning games and keeping clean sheets."

Englishman Fisher has Wales full-back Adam Matthews and Sweden defender Mikael Lustig blocking his way in to Lennon's side on a regular basis.

However, both are currently injured which allowed him to make his ninth appearance of the season in the 4-0 win over Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday.

"It inspires me," he said. "It is good, it helps me, it is not intimidating, I can learn.

"You can talk to them and ask them certain things about the game.

"Both are very good full-backs. Adam is quicker and Mikael is good in the air.

"I get little bits from each of them and you try to put your own stamp on it and try to be better."

Matthews remains out with a calf problem but Celtic winger James Forrest will return from injury.

Meanwhile, Alexei Eremenko believes his Kilmarnock return will mean more goals for Boyd.

Killie announced the re-signing of the Finnish playmaker Eremenko until the end of the season on Tuesday afternoon and he goes straight into boss Allan Johnston's squad at Parkhead.

The 30-year-old spent a year with the Rugby Park side after arriving in the summer of 2010 and made such an impact that he was nominated for the Professional Footballers Association Scotland player of the year award.

But he believes it will be 13-goal Scotland striker Boyd who will benefit most from his second spell.

Eremenko was at Rugby Park on Saturday to see his new team-mates beat Inverness 2-0, with Boyd grabbing the all important second, and was impressed with what he saw.

He said: "I don't think I played against Kris when he was at Rangers the last time I was here, but I watched Saturday's game with Inverness and I think I can make him score even more goals."

The 59-time-capped Finn rejoins the side following spells with Russian's Rubin Kazan and more recently FC Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan.

But he has not played since the end of the Kazakh season in November, while he spent seven months on the sidelines with a knee injury during his stay in Russia.

It will take time to find full fitness but Eremenko cannot wait to get started.

"I need to work hard to get my fitness back and hopefully I should be back fit for the Dundee United game in two-and-a-half weeks," he said.

"But It feels great to be back at Kilmarnock. When I left the club, I told the club secretary Kirsten Callaghan that I would be back one day but I didn't expect to be back so soon.

"I was gone for three years but my memories of playing here were always with me. The first time I was here was one of the best spells in my career and that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to come back."

On-loan Kilmarnock defender Jackson Irvine cannot play against his parent club, while it remains to be seen whether Eremenko will go straight into Johnstone's team or start on the bench.

Source: PA

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