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Celtic target bounce game before Rangers showdown in bid to get fringe men firing


Celtic’s first-team dressing-room may be half empty for the next few days but boss Ange Postecoglou isn’t concerned about his dozen players absent on international duty.

The Hoops gaffer believes it’s a chance to get some of those remaining rested or up to speed in time for the title race run-in.

The risk of injury to his key men who are playing for their countries over the next two weeks is at the back of his mind.

But the Aussie insists he’s an optimist who believes in the lap of the gods for keeping his stars injury-free.

He said: “There’s a couple like Joe Hart and Cameron Carter-Vickers who we will just freshen up in the first week.

“There are others who we will try and get some good work into. We might try to arrange a bounce game too because there are a few who haven’t had a game for a while.

“We’ll get some meaningful minutes into those guys and some rest for the others.

“We have a dozen away plus a few younger players with the underage national teams.

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“But there will be plenty of players here we can get some work into over the next two weeks. You do worry about [someone being hurt] a little but at the same time injuries can happen here in training.

“The challenge for some of our lads is the travelling they have to do. We need to make sure when they come back they get a chance to recover.

“International football is good for our players.

“They get a lot out of it and come back feeling better and more confident.

“And it’s good they get away from the daily rituals we have here – it freshens things up for them.”

With the League Cup trophy already in the cabinet, Celtic ’s bid for league and Scottish Cup glory remains on track.

Postecoglou insists that Hampden success against Hibs in December delivered more than a piece of silverware – it installed a mentality within his squad for more and a hunger to prove the doubters wrong.

He said: “The group has proven they are resilient and embrace challenges.

“We have one trophy and what that did was give us an appetite for more.

“We didn’t stop there and say, ‘OK, we have the trophy in the bag.’ It doesn’t matter what happens now. Most people would not have expected us to challenge for anything this year so you can take those things two ways.

“What the cup win did for us was give us a real impetus and an appetite for more.

“Since then the players have tackled every challenge in front of them and hopefully we can win some more silverware.”

On the horizon are three Old Firm derbies – two league meetings and a Scottish Cup semi-final – that will have a massive influence on the destination of the silverware.




Postecoglou insists Celtic will relish the challenges as it’s a pressure that comes from being in the frame for the big prizes.

He said: “Everyone is looking forward to it. You want to be involved in big games when each one has meaning.

“You always want to do well in the derby games but if it’s a dead rubber, and there is nothing on the end of it, then it can take a little bit away.

“There will be consequences on all these games and that’s what you want. You want to be playing in front of big crowds, friendly and hostile, knowing that everything is on the line.

“That’s why we love this game and why we want to be involved.”





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