Football: Celtic obliged to shuffle at the back

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Celtic's chances of success at Anfield on Tuesday will depend largely on the abilities of Wim Jansen to extract the best from the players at his disposal.

The first leg of the Uefa Cup tie saw a second half of passion and skill from Celtic as they came back to lead 2-1 before losing a late goal to Steve McManaman. On Saturday there was an added determination about Celtic's performance in a 2-1 win over Dundee United which could serve them well in Liverpool.

Jansen will demand those qualities, as he will be missing key players. Marc Rieper is ineligible, Tom Boyd is suspended, and the absence of the injured Stephane Mahe will require a changed back four to be built around Alan Stubbs.

Andreas Thom and Morten Wieghorst both left the field early on Saturday and, while few outside Glasgow would have given a full-strength Celtic side much of a chance on Tuesday, it would be stretching credibility to suggest a damaged side can secure victory.

However, Jansen has quickly created a resolute team spirit and Liverpool would be advised not to underestimate Celtic's passion. Saturday's win again demonstrated the growing understanding between Henrik Larsson and Simon Donnelly, who combined for the first goal, the second being added by Phil O'Donnell, who looks certain to play from the start on Tuesday.

Rangers, too, have injury worries, as they prepare to face Strasbourg at Ibrox, the most damaging being a thigh injury which may rule out Brian Laudrup, their captain. The Dane's skills will be much needed as Rangers attempt to overcome a 2-1 deficit, but he was replaced during Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Motherwell and is considered very doubtful.

Joachim Bjorklund also failed to finish on Saturday, so once again Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, will be required to change a defence that has conceded five goals in the last two home games.

The failure of Rangers to collect full points allowed He arts the opportunity to reclaim first place in the Premier Division - they lead by one point with a game more played than Rangers. The Edinburgh club scored three times in the first half at Kilmarnock for a 3-0 victory.

Aberdeen's 2-1 home defeat to Dunfermline leaves the Dons stuck at the bottom of the division and once again asks questions about Roy Aitken's future as their manager.

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