Burns turns up the heat at Celtic

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The Independent Online
FOOTBALL

The smiles have returned at Celtic following Wednesday's 3-1 Tennents Scottish Cup semi-final replay win over Hibernian, and for the Glasgow club's manager, Tommy Burns, the change in atmosphere at the ground has recalled better times.

"It's a happy place to be today," he said yesterday. "It is the way it was many a time when I was a player here after we'd qualified for a final or won a league or a cup.

"We scored three goals last night and could easily have scored another three or four. We only need a positive attitude at this club now, because there have been too many negative things for so long."

Burns praised all his players but reserved a special mention for Tom Boyd, who played in central defence alongside Brian O'Neil having been converted from full-back. "Tommy is a perfect foil for Brian: he's quick to the ball and reads the game well," Burns said. "As a full-back he didn't get to the by-line quickly enough and didn't want the responsibility of creating all the time."

Burns will speak to O'Neil, Charlie Nicholas, Paul McStay, Rudi Vata and Tony Mowbray this week about new contracts, hoping each will commit their futures to Celtic. His quest in securing those deals was given a fillip when John Collins, who scored the vital second goal in the replay win at Ibrox, said yesterday that he is certainly prepared to stay with the club he joined from Hibs in 1990.

Collins moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow hoping to win trophies. But although he has yet to taste success at Celtic he said: "I have another year of my contract remaining and as far as I'm concerned I will be here until then, unless the manager says otherwise."

Winning the Scottish Cup next month would be the bonus Collins is looking for. "This will be my first Scottish Cup final and it's an occasion I'm really looking forward to. A trophy is just what the club needs at the moment, although we will treat Airdrie with every respect - especially as they showed they were capable of beating Hearts on the big occasion.

"But there's always pressure when you play for a team like Celtic, and especially when we haven't won a trophy for so many years."

Collins' Airdrie counterpart, Andy Smith, is eager to enhance the Diamonds' giant-killing reputation against Celtic in the final after they secured their May date at Hampden Park with a 1-0 win against Hearts on Saturday. Smith, who scored for the First Division club in their 2-1 Cup final defeat by Rangers in 1992, claims his side are ready for the challenge.

"There's no doubt Celtic are the more glamorous of the two sides we might have met, and the fact that they are playing a First division side in another cup final makes it all the more intriguing," Smith said.

"As Raith Rovers proved in winning the Coca-Cola Cup, we will have nothing to lose on the day."

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