The fight back begins

14 August 2010 11:33
Celtic meet Inverness today and it could provide Paddy McCourt his first chance to show he can replace Aiden McGeady Celtic headed to Inverness for the first league game of the season without Gary Hooper after he suffered a calf injury in the pre-season game against Blackburn. Neil Lennon will have Scott Brown's ankle problem assessed after missing Scotland`s defeat by Sweden and Thomas Rogne is likely to miss out after suffering a thigh injury while playing for Norway Under-21s. However, Lennon could hand Israel midfielder Beram Kayal his debut and James Forrest has recovered from illness. Lennon will also have to consider how he deals with the departure Aiden McGeady. The Republic of Ireland international has completed a reported £9.5million move to Spartak Moscow and the likes of Paddy McCourt faces the most important season of his Celtic career as he bids to prove he can fill the void. McCourt accepts the departure of the winger will be a blow for the Hoops. However, he knows the loss of one of their key players will also pave the way for someone else to stake a claim for first-team football and is determined to be the one who benefits. McCourt said: "We have probably lost our best player in the league so he is going to leave a big hole but it's up to someone to step up to the plate and fill it''. Asked whether that person could be him, he replied: "I think so, me and maybe a couple of other boys. It's up to whoever gets the shout against Inverness. They've got the jersey and it's up to them to hold onto it and I'm hoping it will be me. It's very important - it's the most important season since I've been here to be honest. The first one I found tough and I struggled a lot. Last year I was quite happy with the games when I did come in and play. This is the year where I really want to kick on and be a regular in the side.''Inverness striker Richie Foran will miss the first three weeks of the league season after struggling with a knee problem in pre-season. But fellow Irishman Johnny Hayes is pushing to feature today after scoring twice against Clachnacuddin in a midweek friendly after being troubled by the same injury. Summer signing Chris Innes is suspended for the visit of Neil Lennon's side but Stuart Golabek has shaken off a hamstring injury. Inverness have not lost at home since October and striker Adam Rooney is aiming to put pressure on Celtic with the help of a vocal home support. He said: "I think there's always pressure on the Old Firm. Celtic will obviously have pressure on them after being knocked out of the Champions League but we'll be looking to make it difficult for them, just like any team this season. Hopefully we can make this place a fortress, the fans were great last year especially when things were tough going, they got behind the team and helped lift us. Hopefully we can get a full house this Saturday and give all the lads a boost.''