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  • Manager relishing Paradise table-top clash with Kilmarnock

    Manager relishing Paradise table-top clash with Kilmarnock

    By: Joe Sullivan on 07 Dec, 2018 16:01

  • CELTIC and Kilmarnock go head-to-head tomorrow (Saturday) at Paradise, with both teams knowing that a win will see them top the table at the final whistle.

    Albeit having played two games more than the champions, the Rugby Park side proudly, if somewhat unexpectedly, sit atop the pile at the moment, and Hoops manager, Brendan Rodgers paid his opposite number, Steve Clarke and his players due acknowledgement ahead of Saturday's meeting.

    The Irishman said: “Kilmarnock deserve all the credit that they get, and the biggest credit you can give is that it’s not by accident. They’ve had a real consistent run over the last few years. I think Steve’s done a brilliant job in terms of how he organises them, the way they want to play, and consistently they’ve got very, very good results.

    “So, okay, they’ve played two more games than us, but they’re still in a position where maybe some people wouldn’t expect them to be. But if you’ve watched them closely over the past year or so, Steve and the players have done a great job in terms of how they’ve worked, and they are a very difficult team to beat. So we know we have to be at our best tomorrow to get the result we want.

    “They set up in a way that makes it very difficult for you, and you have to be really patient against them as they bank up really tight and get good players on the counter-attack, so we’ll have to be at our very best to get a result.”

    Hot on the heels of the table-topping clash, the Celts will face FC Salzburg in the final game of the UEFA Europa League’s Group B matches, with the Hoops only needing a draw to progress beyond the New Year in the tournament.

    However, the manager is concentrating fully on the visit of Kilmarnock before preparing for the game against the Austrian champions, and said: “The game tomorrow is our focus and we’ll get enough rest time for the game on Thursday.”

    Tomorrow will be Celtic's first home game in the league for over a month and, their first outing at Paradise since lifting the League Cup for the third successive season last Sunday at Hampden.

    Following that 1-0 win over Aberdeen, the Hoops travelled to Fir Park for a midweek match with Motherwell and a much-changed side controlled the game until the home side levelled matters at 1-1 with just two minutes to go.

    The manager said: “The other night we had to make a few changes as we had some boys that were unavailable to play and there were some guys that I decided to give a rest to because they had played in so many games - there were international games and travel, and also I trust my squad. We are bringing in players that are normally international players.

    “We weren’t at our fluent best the other night, but we were within a couple of minutes away from getting a victory. It didn’t come, but we reflect on it and look to be better within our game for our match tomorrow.”

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