St Johnstone V Celtic at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

14 September 2012 06:01
St Johnstone V Celtic - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Lomas keeps his fingers crossed St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas is hoping there are "not too many" players missing due to a virus for Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Celtic at McDiarmid Park.

The Northern Irishman had to cancel the training session at Stirling University on Thursday after seven players were struck down with a bug. Sitting bottom of the SPL with two points from five games, the Perth club do not have their worries to seek as they welcome the champions. Lomas, while reluctant to say how many, if any, had recovered on Friday, is hoping he will have the majority of his squad available.

"What we hope for is that we get no more players taken down," he said. "Nobody is ruled out yet but we just have to wait and see. But fingers crossed that there are no more."

Lomas tried to put a brave face on things but is aware of the strength in depth Hoops boss Neil Lennon has at his disposal.

"It is a great game in prospect and I am looking forward to it," said the former West Ham and Manchester City midfielder.

"They could probably put out three teams that could compete in the SPL, it is as simple as that but the boys will also be looking forward to it.

"You are there to play against the bigger teams and with Rangers out of the league, Celtic are the big scalp.

"We know it is going to be difficult, against whatever team Celtic put out but if you can't relish these games you are not in the right profession. "They are a good team, but we were very competitive against them last season.

"Apart from some misfortune and poor decisions against us, we probably would have got a few more results but the top teams can win when they don't play well and that is a very good thing to have. "But we have to look at ourselves. I am a big believer that the performance normally takes care of the result.

"That could probably come back to haunt me, but I would be a lot more worried if we were not creating chances.

"It's about taking your chances although I suppose it helps if Celtic have an off-day."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is set to fine Thomas Rogne after the defender was quoted complaining about new contract talks with the Parkhead club. The 22-year-old's current deal expires at the end of the season, and although he is free to talk to interested clubs in January, he was reported while on international duty with Norway Under-21s as saying he is loving life at the Parkhead club. However, Rogne, signed by Tony Mowbray in January 2010 from Stabaek, also reportedly moaned about being undervalued.

"I have played when I have been healthy and feel I should be paid like the other players in that category but the deal has been much worse," he was quoted as saying.

"The salary must reflect my value." The Celtic boss, speaking at the club's Lennoxtown training centre as he looked ahead to Saturday's clash, was asked if he had had a word with Rogne and replied: "I have yes. He feels he was misquoted and he didn't know what all the fuss was about.

"He and his advisors are in negotiations at the minute and he wants to stay, but he is going to face a club fine because we don't want the players talking club business when they are away on international duty. "Maybe he wasn't aware of that, but he is now. "I want him here, absolutely.

And, as I say, talks are on-going at the moment." Lennon will have Scott Brown back in the Celtic midfield in Perth after the Hoops skipper missed Scotland's double-header against Serbia and Macedonia with an on-going hip problem.

While Brown returns for his first SPL start of the season, along with Charlie Mulgrew who has recovered from an Achilles injury, the champions will be without Georgios Samaras who is out with an elbow injury picked up on international duty with Greece. Lennon's new signings, strikers Lassad Nouioui and Miku and goalkeeper Lubos Kamenar, are in contention but defender Efe Ambrose has yet to return from international duty with Nigeria.

Source: PA