Strachan in 'rhubarb' retort to Miller transfer rumours

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The Independent Online

Gordon Strachan was in dismissive mood yesterday, both about suggestions that his Scotland striker Kenny Miller is on the transfer list and about any notion that winning tonight's Champions League third qualifying round second leg against Spartak Moscow will be a formality.

Miller, 27, joined Celtic from Wolverhampton Wanderers on a Bosman transfer in summer last year but has scored just eight league goals – and three in Europe – since. While he returned to form to score three times in two matches before suffering the hamstring injury that will keep him out tonight, reports persist that Celtic are open to offers.

Strachan scoffed at the idea. "The transfer list thing went out in the 1970s, it doesn't happen here so it's a mysterious one," he said. "I was having a cup of tea and a rhubarb tart when I saw it and I nearly spluttered. Nobody is on the transfer list and we don't want to see anyone going out the door. We love our squad the way it is. I hope Kenny is still here on Saturday morning. I like Kenny, he's done very well for us."

Strachan also insists that there are unlikely to be any new arrivals at Celtic Park before Friday. He said: "I can't see anyone coming in although I can't guarantee it. Something fantastic might turn up but I can't see it. As for people going out, it's not for me to decide that, it's for other people to make a bid for players but there have been no bids in recent days.

"If the bid is astronomical or beneficial then we must think of that because it's a business. But I would imagine that our targets will be in January next year."

Of more immediate concern are Spartak, who are level at 1-1 after the first leg a fortnight ago. Paul Hartley's goal gave Celtic a valuable away strike, and in their last 16 Champions League matches at home, qualifiers included, Celtic have lost just once, giving them a record on a par with anyone else on the Continent.

But Strachan was at pains to stress the size of the task ahead. "If we were playing a bad side [in Europe] then you could say everything was going for us but we are facing a right good side [in Spartak].

"Players, the fans and the media know that. It's good that everybody knows what good players they are and they know that the task in front of us is not easy.

"When I played, I always had a fear of the opposition that kept you going. If you don't have fear or respect then you have a problem. There is nothing wrong with a bit of fear.

"It is important for us to be in the Champions League. We would like to continue and enjoy the experience. But it's not for us to worry about the financial side of things, ours is to worry about the game."

With Miller out, Strachan will probably opt to partner Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink up front with Scott McDonald, who supplied Hartley's goal in Moscow and faces his first European home match at Parkhead since his £700,000 summer move from Motherwell.

"The goals will come, I'm quite confident of that," said the 24-year-old Australian, who has yet to score. "We go out to score goals in every game and we won't be sitting back to play for a 0-0 draw."

Celtic (possible, 4-4-2): Boruc; Wilson, Kennedy, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura, Brown, Donati, Hartley; McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink.

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