Football: Venglos hopes for vital victory

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The Independent Online
THE CELTIC coach, Jozef Venglos, is savouring the prospect of today's Old Firm meeting with Rangers at Parkhead, even though he accepts the consequences of failure will be far-reaching.

Defeat tomorrow and the title holders will be 13 points adrift of their Glasgow rivals and, if not quite stretching to a defiant win-or-bust message, Venglos made it clear he knows the game's outcome is significant.

"The general feeling at the club is that we must win," Venglos said. "As a coach these games are the ones you look forward to most. In Scotland this derby is the biggest game - it is the cream of the football in this country - but derby games are always unpredictable for both teams and it will be the same [today]."

Venglos' injured include Craig Burley, Marc Rieper and Jonathan Gould, but Alan Stubbs is fit again and there is the option of bringing in the Swedish international Johan Mjallby.

The pounds 1.5m signing from AIK Stockholm is in the squad and Venglos hinted at a place on the bench at least, explaining: "Johan is an international player and should be able to play difficult matches."

Venglos feels both of his fit keepers, on-loan Tony Warner from Everton or Andy McCondichie, have the "courage" to play, with Warner the more likely to be selected.

When asked about his own position, Venglos added: "Criticism is part of the game, whether it is correct or fair play I leave up to you. If it is constructive I welcome it."

The Celtic managing director, Fergus McCann, yesterday confirmed the protracted arrival of pounds 3m Croatia Zagreb forward Marko Viduka awaits only a work permit and routine medical.

David Graham should have been looking forward to the second Old Firm derby of the season tomorrow with a sense of expectation. Instead he is expected to line up for Dunfermline against Hearts.

Graham completed his pounds 200,000 move from Rangers last weekend in time to make his debut in the 2-1 victory against Dundee United.

The 20-year-old Edinburgh-born striker and the Brazilian Edinho, currently on loan from Bradford, make an unlikely partnership up front. But the Pars believe the pair could be vital if they are to survive in the top flight.

Only three points separate the bottom six, with Scottish Cup winners Hearts among them. Their fellow strugglers Aberdeen play host to St Johnstone and Kilmarnock face Motherwell in the day's other games, while Dundee United and Dundee go head-to head tomorrow in the Tayside derby.