Ross County V Celtic at Victoria Park : Match Preview

08 March 2013 05:01
Ross County V Celtic - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

County keen to hold up Hoops

Ross County manager Derek Adams knows Celtic will visit Dingwall in a rush to clinch the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title following their European exit.

Celtic saw their lead at the top of the SPL cut to 16 points following defeat at Motherwell and, if the Lanarkshire side keep winning, will need four victories to begin the celebrations.

But Adams' team have their own agenda as they look to tie up top-six qualification and extend their unbeaten run in 2013.

County have put themselves four points clear of the bottom half following a 10-match unbeaten run and Adams is hungry to seal the achievement of a top-half finish in the club's first season in the top flight.

Ahead of the match, Adams said: "We want to continue the unbeaten run and we have got a tough one to play against Celtic.

"They have come off a good performance against Juventus in Turin.

"We'll just have to find out which team is going to come to Dingwall on Saturday.

"They have got undoubted quality throughout their side. They are a team that wants to win the SPL as quickly as possible.

"We want to collect as many points as we can as quickly as possible as well. We have put ourselves in a very good position and we want to stay in the top six. We have got four games to go and tough ones at that.

"We have Celtic, Inverness, Kilmarnock and Hearts but the other teams have very tough games as well.

"We will see how we go in the next few weeks. It has given us that opportunity in our first season not only to be in the top six but to stay there for the last five games of the season.

"We have achieved more than we thought we would at the start of the season.

"Consolidating in the Premier League was the main focus. We have probably done that now and we have put ourselves in a great position."

Ross County captain Richard Brittain is suspended for the game and goalkeeper Mark Brown is still out.

The former Celtic player suffered a fractured hand and was replaced by Michael Fraser for last week's Highland derby.

Meanwhile, Neil Lennon does not "see any reason" why he would leave Celtic.

In the wake of the Hoops' Champions League last-16 exit on Wednesday night, the prospect of the Northern Irishman attracting interest from other clubs on the back of such an impressive run was acknowledged by chief executive Peter Lawwell.

Even Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster, when asked about his manager possibly moving on, said he "could definitely see it happening."

However, the Parkhead boss said: "It (speculation) makes no difference to me.

"I am the manager of Celtic and I am one of the privileged few who have been lucky enough to do this job. I enjoy it, I love what I do.

"I can't stop speculation about players or myself but at this current period I am Celtic manager and I don't see any reason for that to change in the future.

"Does it flatter you? It just means that you might be doing a decent job along the way.

"But why are we talking about me leaving Celtic all of a sudden?

"I am only three years into the job. I am doing my job, I haven't done a job.

"I want to improve myself, the team, the players and take the club forward.

"We have made huge strides this season. It is going to be difficult to replicate it next season but that is the challenge that lies ahead."

Lennon concedes that he will now have to guard against a European comedown in the final few months of the season.

"Absolutely," he said. "I think that is a fair point.

"We go to Ross County, who are having a fabulous season.

"Derek (Adams) has done wonders there but going from Juventus in the last-16, to Dingwall, in some people's minds, is a step down but in my view it is a very important game.

"You have got to motivate the players, there is a championship to win and you've got your own targets to achieve."

Celtic will be without six players for the clash.

Victor Wanyama and Adam Matthews suffered hamstring injuries against Juventus, while Georgios Samaras and Emilio Izaguirre both picked up strains.

Scott Brown (abductor) and Mikael Lustig (thigh) remain on the sidelines although Tony Watt returns from a bruised foot.

Source: PA

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