Celtic V St Johnstone at Celtic Park : Match Preview

20 September 2013 05:31
Celtic V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hasselbaink harnesses Dutch courage

Striker Nigel Hasselbaink hopes he can serve St Johnstone a Dutch treat by putting one over on compatriots Virgil van Dijk and Derk Boerrigter and their Celtic colleagues.

Saints travel to Parkhead for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off hoping to bounce back from a run of three successive Scottish Premiership fixtures without victory.

But the enormity of the task facing Tommy Wright's men was displayed when the Glasgow side performed admirably at San Siro before going down 2-0 in their Champions League opener with Italian giants AC Milan.

Van Dijk was impressive at the back for the Scottish champions as he dealt comfortably with former Manchester City maverick Mario Balotelli, while ex-Ajax wideman Boerrigter was thrown on just minutes before the seven-time European champions grabbed the opener.

But that has not stopped confident forward Hasselbaink from expressing his belief that Saints are capable of overturning Neil Lennon's side - and his fellow countrymen - on their own patch.

The Amsterdam-born former PSV Eindhoven striker told Press Association Sport: "It would be great to get a win at Celtic Park and I think we can.

"I met Dirk and Virgil at the airport during the international break and we had a wee chat. I hadn't met them before but obviously I knew who they were from back home.

"There are a few Dutch guys at Ross County now too and I've met them a couple of times. It's nice to catch up and speak Dutch instead of English for a change.

"But as for Dirk and Virgil, hopefully I'll be able to speak to them with a smile on my face after the game on Saturday."

Celtic's latest foray on the continent may have ended in disappointment but the comfort with which they passed the ball against Milan will only worry their domestic rivals.

However, competing on two fronts last year proved to be a tricky combination as Lennon's men reached the last 16.

They dropped 15 points in the league games which followed their 12 European fixtures.

Now Hasselbaink hopes that pattern is repeated, saying: "I saw Celtic's game against Milan and they played really well.

"It's a bit daunting go up against a side that looked so comfortable playing against one of the biggest teams in the world.

"But hopefully they might get a bit tired or they might give a few of their big players a rest. They beat Barcelona last year but after that we got a draw against them, so hopefully they have another hangover this time.

"Celtic are a very good side but last year we got a couple of good results. We drew against them and beat them too. But there is a big difference between the Champions League and the SPL. It depends on how seriously they take it.

"But every game is big for us. We want to take the three points every time we play. So for me, it's all about what we do. We are going to take the game seriously and go for a good result."

Frazer Wright has given Saints a boost ahead of the clash by declaring himself fit. The centre-half limped off during last week's 2-1 defeat to Hibernian in Perth with a knee injury but has returned to training in time.

Joe Ledley (groin), James Forrest (virus) and Beram Kayal (groin) are still sidelined for Celtic having missed out against Milan in midweek.

Celtic boss Lennon, looking forward to the clash against St Johnstone, reiterated how pleased he was with his side's performance in the San Siro.

"Our first 15 to 20 minutes after the break was superb, the football we played and the chances we created," Lennon said.

"It gives you a lot of encouragement, obviously."

Turning to the visit of Wright's side, Lennon added: "I know Tommy very well personally and I am delighted for him that he has got the opportunity to take over from Steve (Lomas).

"They have been very consistent over the last couple of seasons.

"They have a very good team ethic, they work hard for each other and they have strikers who can upset us, so it is a good game to come back to."

Source: PA