No room for grudges as Celtic defend slender lead

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The Independent Online

Alan Thompson said there will be no grudges held against Barcelona in the Uefa Cup fourth round, second leg after an incident in the players' tunnel at Parkhead two weeks ago.

Alan Thompson said there will be no grudges held against Barcelona in the Uefa Cup fourth round, second leg after an incident in the players' tunnel at Parkhead two weeks ago.

The Celtic goalkeeper Robert Douglas and Barcelona midfielder Thiago Motta were dismissed by referee Wolfgang Stark at half-time following a fracas as the teams left the field. Both will miss tonight's return game at the Nou Camp where Celtic are defending Thompson's solitary goal.

But the former Aston Villa and Bolton midfielder is adamant the incident has now been forgotten by both sides: "I don't think it will account for anything. I don't think we are an overly aggressive team, which some people have said, and I watched the Barcelona game on TV on Sunday night and I don't think they are the most aggressive team in the world.

"We certainly don't have any grudges going into the game and I doubt if they have. People have spoken like that before about us after games. Now we just have to wait and see. I don't think it has ever affected the way we have approached our games."

Thompson, along with Chris Sutton and Stanislav Varga, was winning his fitness battle last night. The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, is already without the suspended duo of Douglas and Bobo Baldé and only has teenage goalkeepers David Marshall and Michael McGovern at his disposal.

Thompson (hamstring), Sutton (ankle) and Varga (hip) have been back in training this week and O'Neill will select them if they feel no adverse effects this morning.

Paul Lambert (dead leg) and Didier Agathe (ankle) are also expected to be fit after picking up knocks in the recent win at Hibernian. Joos Valgaeren is struggling to shake off a hamstring injury but Johan Mjallby and Liam Miller are on stand-by despite being short of match practice.

Thompson added: "If we go through into the next round, I think it will be one of the best results we have had at the club since I have been here. If you don't go through, then the first-leg result means nothing, but we are aware of just how demanding it is going to be.

"We want to approach it in a positive manner and it would be nice to get a goal over there. We have to try and prevent them from scoring, especially early on, and what we are looking for is to produce another big performance."

Probable squad: Sylla, McNamara, Valgaeren, Larsson, Thompson, Sutton, Pearson, Lambert, Agathe, Lennon, Petrov, Marshall, Varga, Wallace, Mjallby, Beattie, Smith, Miller, McManus, McGovern.

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