Celtic V St Johnstone at Celtic Park : Match Preview

15 February 2014 02:31
Celtic V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Mulgrew backs Van Dijk's WC dream

Celtic utility man Charlie Mulgrew insists team-mate Virgil van Dijk has done enough to book a spot in Holland's World Cup squad, despite what the critics may say.

The former FC Groningen defender has impressed since moving to Scotland this summer as part of a Hoops defence that has not conceded a Scottish Premiership goal since November.

Such performances have seen the 22-year-old tipped for a place in the Holland party that will jet out to Brazil this summer.

But with Celtic's Champions League campaign over, some Dutch pundits have suggested his chances may suffer because of the poor quality of opposition in Scotland.

Mulgrew, though, is a huge fan of the defender's talents.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's league clash with St Johnstone, he said: "I'd give Virgil my backing for a World Cup call-up. He's a top player and is still young, he's got plenty of time on his side.

"From what I've seen of him and from training with him, he's good enough to be in the Holland squad.

"You could see from day one of his time here that he was a good player and he has got all the attributes. He has improved during his eight months here too and is getting better all the time.

"He's a typical Dutch centre-back - really good on the ball and really composed. He makes it look easy at times.

"Is it harder to get a call-up for a country like Holland when you're playing in Scotland? I don't know, maybe it is but I don't know why it should be."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright has challenged his players to make an improved start as they look to beat the champions for a third consecutive season.

Saints have won both home and away during Wright's time at McDiarmid Park but conceded early goals in both of the matches they have played against Celtic since he stepped up following the exit of Steve Lomas.

Both of those games ended in one-goal defeats and Wright knows they must start better on Saturday at Parkhead as Celtic bid to bounce back from their William Hill Scottish Cup loss to Aberdeen.

"We haven't beaten them this year obviously but in recent years we have experienced wins against them," Wright said.

"We know how difficult it is, it can never be underestimated how hard you have to work against them to achieve a victory.

"The most important thing is you need everybody to play almost on top of their game. You need to keep the ball, and we have players in the team who are capable of that.

"We know in the two games we played (this season) we can cause them some problems, although we didn't cause them enough problems.

"We will try to compete for 90 minutes. When we went to Celtic, we did really well for the last half-hour, and the second half at McDiarmid we played really well.

"But the two first-half performances, Celtic could have been out of sight.

"So we have to start the game well and make sure we are competing for 90 minutes."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44