Abuse of players by crowd sickens Larsson

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The Independent Football

Henrik Larsson will be happy to leave behind a side of Scottish football he says has sickened him. The Celtic striker will bring the curtain down on his seven-year Parkhead career with a farewell match against Seville on 25 May. Larsson will be sad to leave but he has expressed his relief at not having to witness the abuse that is hurled at his team-mates - and in particular Neil Lennon - at grounds around Scotland.

"It's scary to see," he said. "We are only footballers. We play football but other than that we are just the same as everyone else. I don't understand it. You don't know the guy. Why would you hate somebody you don't know? The hatred you encounter in some of the grounds that you go to is just frightening especially when you see a grown man standing next to a kid and throwing verbal abuse at you.

"It does sicken me. Everyone wants to stamp that out in football but when you have kids watching that kind of thing then it will always be there."

The Celtic goalkeeper, Rob Douglas, will attempt to cure a long-standing thigh injury with an operation during the summer. The Scotland No 1 has been feeling pain during and after matches and after seeking advice from an English-based consultant he has agreed to have surgery.

But Douglas still hopes to play in the Scottish Cup final as the operation will not go ahead until after the end-of-season tie with Dunfermline at Hampden Park.

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, has already ruled Wales striker John Hartson out of a dramatic return for the 22 May showdown despite him making a speedy recovery from a back operation.

But O'Neill's injury list is clearing up ahead of the short trip across town to the national stadium.

Stilian Petrov, Jackie McNamara and Joos Valgaeren are back in training after missing the league defeat against Dunfermline, and Bobo Balde and Didier Agathe could also come into contention for Saturday's final Old Firm game of the season at Parkhead.

John Kennedy and Shaun Maloney will not play again for some time but the latter hopes to travel to America with the rest of the first-team squad for their pre-season tour.