Arteta insists Rangers still have hopes of the title

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The Independent Football

The Rangers midfielder Mikel Arteta believes the Ibrox club can still catch runaway leaders Celtic, but yesterday conceded that his side's best hope of silverware this season will be the Scottish Cup.

Rangers host Hibernian today, but a victory would still leave Celtic, who travel to Partick Thistle, with a 10-point lead. Arteta, who has recovered from a hamstring injury after two weeks out, said: "We are so far away from Celtic, but we don't have any other option, we have to try to win.

"Of course, there is much more motivation when it is close in the League and you think you can still win something. It is a different motivation now. If we win we would maybe still be 10 points away, so to say it is the same is definitely not true and everybody knows that. I would like to see Celtic slip up. You never know, but the best option we have is the Cup."

Rangers welcome back Stephen Hughes (groin) and Steven Thompson, who is available for the first time since September after knee reconstruction surgery, but Michael Ball is suspended.

Derek Riordan is a doubt for Hibernian because of an abscess in his mouth, and Colin Murdock is also struggling with a knee injury.

Tomorrow, Partick Thistle's Stephane Bonnes will be looking for revenge against Celtic. The Frenchman acquired something of a cult status during his four years at Parkhead as he never once played for the first team. That was despite being hailed as a real prospect on his arrival at the club in 1999 by John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish. Martin O'Neill never gave him an opportunity and in the summer he made the short journey across Glasgow to sign for Thistle on a free transfer.

The Partick player manager, Gerry Britton (knee), and Jean-Yves Anis (back) are doubtful and Kenny Milne (rib), Jamie Mitchell (broken foot), Derek Fleming (Achilles) and Andy Ross (knee) are all ruled out, but the former Celtic striker Jorge Cadete could play against his old club after signing a one-month deal with Partick.

Celtic will still be without John Hartson (back) Johan Mjallby (knee) and Liam Miller (groin), but John Kennedy is pushing for a place after recovering from a head injury.

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