Football: Celtic in slump before date with Dons

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The Independent Online
Celtic and Aberdeen both slumped to defeat a matter of days before their Coca-Cola Cup semi-final meeting at Ibrox. The Dons have won just once this season, on the opening day against Hearts, the side who beat them 2-0 at Tynecastle on Saturday to send them into second-to-bottom position. Celtic's 2-0 defeat by Falkirk means they have failed to score in their last three games.

At Ibrox on Wednesday, both will look to move a step closer to ending long years without a trophy. Aberdeen have to go back four years, Celtic five, since their last success so defeat for either would be a disappointment.

The other semi-final will be contested tomorrow by Raith Rovers and Airdrie.

Celtic will be without Tom Boyd and Lee Martin, their defenders, because of injury. Martin, the former Manchester United player, was taken off with a broken leg after 14 minutes while Boyd followed later.

However, the list of players unavailable to Rangers for next week's Old Firm match at Hampden has grown with the addition of Craig Moore, the Australian full-back sent off in the 2-1 defeat by Motherwell at Fir Park. With several leading players injured, Walter Smith will be without a total of seven first-team men.

He still hopes to sign Alan McLaren from Hearts in time for Sunday's match, which will be shown live on television. Negotiations broke down last week with Dave McPherson - one of two Rangers players involved in a cash-plus-players swap deal - who is unhappy with the financial arrangements of his return to Tynecastle.

However, McLaren has agreed to join Rangers and with the clubs having agreed a price, it seems only a matter of time before the young international moves to Glasgow.