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Who Will Get The Glasgow Bragging Rights?
Always a tough game to call. Rangers Walter Smith is hopeful Steven Naismith will be passed fit for today's Old Firm derby. Naismith pulled up with a hamstring strain against Motherwell on Boxing Day and faces a fightto prove his fitness ahead of the game against Celtic. Kyle Lafferty will be back in action for the clash at Ibrox after several weeks on the sideline with a broken bone in his hand. Smith says that neither team can be considered a clear favourite to come out on top. Rangers have home advantage for the game and also claimed first blood in the first meeting of the sides this season when they earned a 3-1 win at Celtic Park in October. Celtic, meanwhile, claimed a psychological boost when their midweek win over Motherwell allowed them to leapfrog their rivals to the top of the league, after Rangers' own game fell victim to the weather. But, as far as Smith is concerned, the famous fixture is once again impossible to call. He said: "I would hope we could use home advantage but, if you look at both clubs at the moment, both of us have dropped more points at home than we have away from home this season. That's something we will have to be wary of considering it's our home match. There is not a lot between the two teams. I don't think there is a situation where one team is favoured more than the other. Both teams have had their highs and started the season very well and both teams have tailed off a little bit in terms of the number of points dropped recently. I don't think you could say that either team would be favoured. I think what will happen this time, is that it will be the team who manages to hit the best form on the day. That happens in quite a number of the Old Firm games.'' Smith is due to leave at the end of the season, meaning he only has a few Old Firm games to look forward to as manager. Despite plenty of experience of the fiery clashes over his two spells at the Ibrox helm, the veteran boss insists there will be no shortage of nerves and excitement this weekend. He said: "You get all that, of course you do. They are big games and they are big games not only for the club, but the supporters too. I can't say it's the most enjoyable build-up to a game. It's only enjoyable if you win at the end of it. There is a lot of tension in the air and it's an awkward game in terms of build-up. But afterwards, if you win it, you look forward to going on and having a good spell in the season. After winning the first game at Celtic Park, we would look to hopefully use home advantage and get another win. But the difficulties are always there.'' Freddie Ljungberg goes straight in to the Hoops squad for the game while captain Scott Brown is suspended after being sent off against Motherwell in midweek and midfielder Olivier Kapo (hamstring) and striker Daryl Murphy (calf) are out. Midfielder Efrain Juarez and striker Georgios Samaras are back in contention for a start. Neil Lennon insists he would rather be in Celtic's position than where Rangers sit. The Irishman is happy enough with the situation. Lennon said: "I would rather be top - you still have to win your games in hand and as you have seen this season there are no guarantees of that. But we don't want to drop too many points on Rangers because they've got games in hand. It is important that we put in a strong performance and take something from the game. We are not going there negative in any shape or form, we are going there to win. In the last Old Firm game we shot ourselves in the foot and that can't happen again on Sunday. We will talk about that in the next couple of days and look at footage of that game and others to see where we can exploit them.'' Editor Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)Admin Team (admin@scottishfitba net)This is Scottish-Fitba.Net
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