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Celtic braced for trial at home and abroad

18 Oct 2013 00:46:57

Celtic braced for trial at home and abroad

Celtic face a testing week as they travel to a rejuvenated Hibernian side on Saturday before facing Ajax in a crucial Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was pleased to see most of his players return unscathed from international duty while the fortnight lay-off allowed several of his injured players much needed time to recuperate.

However, the knock Mikel Lustig picked up while away with Sweden coupled with Adam Matthews' long-term shoulder injury has presented the manager with a dilemma at right-back.

"We'll have to rethink a little bit regarding Hibs," the Celtic manager said.

"It will be a gamble if Lustig was to make it so it might not be a gamble worth taking.

"Efe Ambrose has played international football at right-back so he's a possibility. We have Darnell Fisher too, but I might also change the formation. I'll have a look over it in the next couple of days.

"We have been flexible over the last few years with how we've played. We've gone 4-4-2, played a diamond, played a back three, 4-2-3-1. I like players who can adapt to different positions and formations.

"We've had plenty of flexibility where individuals are concerned and certainly within the squad. Whether we change the formation is not a major issue for me because the players can adapt to it."

Celtic went into the international break on top of the Scottish Premiership table for the first time with a win over Motherwell -- their sixth consecutive league victory.

Lennon is hopeful his side can pick up where they left off but they face a Hibs side that has been climbing the league table in recent weeks.

After a shaky start, including a humiliating 9-0 aggregate defeat to Malmo in a Europa League qualifying match, Hibs have now only been beaten once in their last eight matches.

Lennon is wary of the threat Pat Fenlon's side, who could jump up to third with a win in the match, will pose to the Parkhead side.

"Paul Heffernan has been a very good signing for them," Lennon said.

"He's clever, he's a goalscorer and they have a real threat going forward.They have turned things around since the Malmo game where it was all gloom and doom. They've had some decent results, away to Partick and St Johnstone, and we lost at Easter Road last year.

"Pat's team can be dogged and difficult to beat when they want to be and we have to be wary of that."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Aberdeen will hope to get back to winning ways when Dundee United visit Pittodrie, Kilmarnock, still looking for their first win of the season, take on Ross County, St Mirren host St Johnstone while Motherwell take on bottom of the table Hearts.

Second place Inverness Caledonian Thistle host Partick Thistle on Sunday.

Saturday (1400GMT unless stated)

Hibernian v Celtic (1130), Aberdeen v Dundee United, Kilmarnock v Ross County, Motherwell v Hearts, St Mirren v St Johnstone

Sunday

Inverness CT v Partick Thistle


AFP

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