Football: Scottish Football - Boyd still has belief in Celtic

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TOM BOYD, the Celtic captain, reckons his team are fast approaching the same level of peak performance which lifted them to the Scottish title last year - despite injuries and suspensions on a virtually unprecedented scale.

Boyd will again revert to centre-half for the trip to Kilmarnock today, with Marc Rieper (ankle) and Enrico Annoni (hamstring) already ruled out and Alan Stubbs (groin) expected to join them on the sidelines. He admits the defence have been unsettled by the enforced changes, but still senses a momentum returning to the Celtic fold as, after an early season stagger, Boyd feels the swagger of the past campaign is returning.

Celtic are keen to overhaul the second-placed Rugby Park outfit and establish themselves, as inevitably they will in time, as Rangers' main challengers for the inaugural Scottish Premier League trophy. Boyd accepts it will represent a tough fixture, but is confident that even with a depleted backline, Celtic have now regained the necessary assurance to seal what would be a vital away triumph.

Boyd said: "I feel that in the last few games we have shown greater consistency and that is something which has improved as the season has gone on and I think the confidence has come back. Kilmarnock are sitting second and will want to put daylight between us and them, they have done exceptionally well last term, but now in Ian Durrant and Ally McCoist they have got players who know what it takes.

"We had continuity in defence last season when the team picked itself and it has been a problem this time round and a disappointing factor but we have coped well given the situation."

Celtic's midweek arrival, Lubomir Moravcik, is included in the squad and the head coach, Jozef Venglos, has hinted his Slovakian compatriot will make the bench at least at Rugby Park.

Moravcik, a pounds 300,000 arrival from the German side, MSV Duisburg, has already shown enough quality touches in training to impress his new colleagues - and the 33-year-old may even come into contention for a start if the injury crisis worsens.

Rangers, who entertain Dundee United at Ibrox today, will be without the strikers Jonatan Johansson (groin) and Gordon Durie (Achilles) - which could mean a surprise recall for the Argentine front man, Gabriel Amato, while Arhur Numan may well start at Tony Vidmar's expense at left-back.