Deila looking forward to Celtic title defence opener

12 August 2014 12:46

Celtic manager Ronny Deila is looking forward to getting his first taste of the Scottish Premiership as they start the defence of their title with a trip to Perth to take on St Johnstone on Wednesday.

The match against the Scottish Cup holders will be Deila's first domestic match in charge of the Glasgow giants and he is desperate to start the campaign with a win as he aims to lead his side to their fourth title in a row.

It is a start of a hectic schedule for Celtic with the Hoops welcoming Dundee United to Parkhead for the unfurling of the league flag on Saturday before a trip to Slovenia to take on NK Maribor following their Champions League reprieve.

Celtic were held to a 3-3 draw and managed a narrow 1-0 win on their visits to McDiarmid Park last season and Deila knows his side will have to be at their best to pick up the three points.

"It's going to be very exciting to get into a rhythm and work every day to get improvements," Deila, who joined from Norwegian side Stromsgodset in the summer, said.

"The team who improves most of all during the season will win the league and we have a strong squad, the best in Scotland.

"So if we keep on playing well and developing, we will have a very good chance to win it.

"We have the cups as well, and I know how good it is to win a cup and be in a cup final, so we have a lot to fight for this season."

Celtic will have to face St Johnstone without talismanic keeper Fraser Forster, who left the club to join English Premiership side Southampton for £10million (12.5million euros, $17.5million) on Saturday.

The English keeper, who set a new Scottish record for clean sheets last season, is likely to be replaced in goal by former Hearts and Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon, who was handed a contract by Celtic in the summer following two years out of the game with an injury.

He may be joined by Aleksander Tonev with the Bulgarian winger expected to sign for the club on loan from Aston Villa.

Elsewhere, top of the table Dundee United will attempt to build on their flying start when they take on Motherwell. United handed Aberdeen a 3-0 opening day defeat while Motherwell claimed a 1-0 win against St Mirren.

The Dons, who were tipped to push Celtic in the league this season, will need to pick themselves up as they travel to Rugby Park to face Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle welcome Ross County to Firhill, Inverness Caledonian Thistle host Dundee while St Mirren and newly-promoted Hamilton clash at New St Mirren Park looking to pick up their first points of the season.

Fixtures (1845GMT kick-offs unless otherwise stated):

Dundee Utd v Motherwell, Inverness CT v Dundee, Kilmarnock v Aberdeen, Partick Thistle v Ross County, St Johnstone v Celtic, St Mirren v Hamilton

Source: AFP