Celtic's 'holy goalie' gets a shot at redemption

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Gordon Strachan, the Celtic manager, will tonight show faith in his errant goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, by fielding the Poland international in Celtic's final European match of the season, a game meaningful only for the visitors, Villarreal.

Celtic are certain to finish bottom of Group E, but the Spanish club still retain faint hopes of finishing as group winners ahead of Manchester United. The occasion presents a chance for Strachan to demonstrate solidarity with his so-called "holy goalie" Boruc, whose on-pitch errors are becoming as frequent as his off-field indiscretions.

His latest gaffe was at Easter Road against Hibernian on Saturday when he let a 45-yard shot from John Rankin roll under his body, an error that partly led to a 2-0 defeat and the end of a 12-match winning streak in the Scottish Premier League for Celtic.

Boruc has also been criticised lately for being overweight, and for drinking and smoking when supposedly recuperating from injury during a trip home to Poland. "Artur is going to play tomorrow night and that's all I really want to say on the Artur Boruc subject," Strachan said yesterday.

The Celtic striker Scott McDonald added that Boruc had his team-mates' full support. "We can see his qualities in training each day," he said. "Everyone makes mistakes but it's more highlighted as a goalkeeper. Unfortunately for Artur and us at the weekend, that was the case. But everyone in the changing room is fully behind him."

Celtic have reached the last 16 in Europe's premier club competition in the past two seasons but will not even have the consolation of Uefa Cup football this time. Strachan tried to see the positives. "I think we deserved more points than we have this season," he said. "There are a lot of things that we believe we did right but we didn't get the breaks or we didn't have enough ability to get through this time."

Going into tonight's games Villarreal have a goal difference inferior to United by two. To finish top, Villarreal therefore need a better result or, if both they and United win, they need to outscore United by two.

Celtic (4-4-2, possible): Boruc; Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Wilson; Nakamura, Brown, Hartley, McGeady; Samaras, McDonald.