Donnelly hoping for second chance

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The Independent Online
Celtic have put their forgotten hero Simon Donnelly on stand-by for tonight's Tennents Scottish Cup semi-final replay against Hibernian, while they wait for the results of a last-minute fitness test on the Dutch striker, Pierre Van Hooijdonk.

If he fails, Willie Falconer could partner Andy Walker, leaving Donnelly - who has not started a first-team game since the Coca-Cola Cup final defeat by Raith last November - as a substitute. Charlie Nicholas is also back in the squad, but is not expected to feature.

"Simon has been showing up well, and this will let him know how fickle football can be," said Tommy Burns, the Celtic manager. "He was an instant hero last season, and then he discovered that you can get an injury and very quickly be forgotten. He had a high profile early in his career, but now he could be a high-flyer again for us."

Burns says he has not given any specific player the job of taking a penalty, following Andy Walker's attempt on Friday which was saved by Jim Leighton.

The regular penalty taker, John Collins, and Walker argued over who should take the 74th-minute spot-kick, but Burns said: "It will be the usual guys fighting over it if we get another - I'd expect Collins to get the ball first if it happened this time."

Hibernian are waiting to see if their captain, Gordon Hunter, who missed Friday's goalless draw, can return following his battle against a thigh injury, but the winger, Mickey Weir, has lost his chance of a recall.

Weir was suspended for Friday's match, but managed to get himself shown the red card in a reserve match against Celtic on Saturday for a second booking, and so is banned again. Alex Miller, the Hibs manager, said: "It was so unprofessional. He would certainly have been in the squad and it's a bit disappointing that he is not available."

Kevin McAllister and Gareth Evans, however, are back in Miller's plans, and he is also willing to leave it late to see whether Hunter can return.

If the teams are level at 90 minutes, the tie will go to extra time and then a penalty shoot-out, which would be a severe test of nerves for Celtic, after they lost the Coca-Cola Cup on a spot-kick decider to Raith at Ibrox.

Whoever wins tonight's replay will meet the First Division outsiders, Airdrieonians, who beat Heart of Midlothian 1-0 on Saturday to reach the final, on 27 May, to be held at Hampden for the second time in four seasons.

It is a remarkable achievement for Alex MacDonald's side, who have been playing their home games at Clyde's Broadwood stadium in Cumbernauld this season, while meeting for training in a public park.

Airdrie sold their home ground, Broomfield, to Safeway at the end of last season, but are still waiting for planning permission to build a 10,000 all-seater stadium at Raebog, on the outskirts of the Lanarkshire town, which they would share with Albion Rovers.

If approval is granted, work will soon begin on the three-sided ground, although Airdrie may have to start next season back at Broadwood.

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