Crowd should help to lift Celtic

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Celtic and Raith Rovers deny that revenge will play a part in tonight's Scottish Coca-Cola Cup third round tie after the Glasgow giants were beaten by Rovers in the final of the same competition last November.

But Raith's manager, Jimmy Nicholl, still fears that the motivation of the crowd could spur Celtic on to greater efforts in their first competitive match at the rebuilt Celtic Park.

Celtic already hold a psychological advantage - they won 1-0 at Raith in the Premier Division on Saturday and are confident of completing the "double".

"While nothing can change our Cup final win, the Celtic fans will be hoping their team will do something about it. The word revenge doesn't come into it for the players but I just hope they don't bow to the pressure and to the 30,000 Celtic fans begging for a result," Nicholl said.

"This will be the biggest crowd my players have played in front of since that final and I know exactly what to expect from them and I know how we'll play. The occasion will lift the lads and hopefully it will end as memorably as the last time."

Nicholl named a squad of 16 and will hope that four players who trained yesterday, despite niggling injuries, haven't suffered an overnight reaction. Tony Rougier, Shaun Dennis, Jim McInally and Steve Crawford all took part in training and will be assessed this morning.

Meanwhile, Celtic's assistant manager, Billy Stark, praised Raith for their achievements since winning the Cup, saying: "They have since won the First Division in style and have progressed in Europe, proving they are no mugs, so it should be a good tie. The game holds a great deal of interest for our supporters and it will be good for us to have a competitive game at our own ground.

"I'm sure our supporters will be looking for revenge and if we play as we can and given a bit of luck we'll go through."

Stark hit out at those who have already judged Celtic after the first two competitive games of the season, away to Ayr and Raith. "It's unfair to judge us game-by-game because if you were to pick grounds where the going is hard, Somerset Park and Stark's Park would be high on the list," he said.

Like Rovers, Celtic have named a 16-strong squad and will assess the progress of Phil O'Donnell and John Hughes this morning.