Celtic return for Vennegoor of Hesselink

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The Independent Football

Celtic's Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink will return from injury to face Hibernian in the lunchtime kick-off at Easter Road, where both sides have unbeaten runs to protect but the pressure will be on the visitors.

Vennegoor of Hesselink has missed two matches with a hamstring strain but the Dutch international is expected to start up front as his manager, Gordon Strachan, fields his strongest side. Celtic face Barcelona in the Champions League in Spain on Tuesday, 3-2 down after the last-16 first leg, but Strachan's priority is the title race.

Celtic have racked up seven straight SPL victories but still remain four points behind Rangers. The last time they dropped points was on 22 December, in a home draw against today's opponents.

Hibs have won their last four league games, and have lost just once in eight since Mixu Paatelainen took over as manager in January. They also won their last two home games against Celtic.

Strachan said the neck-and-neck title race is not the thrill for him that it is becoming for neutrals. "How excited am I by the title race? I'd rather be bored to tears being miles ahead," he said.

"But I think the league is more exciting for everybody. Our points total is a bit down from last year, while Rangers have improved their points vastly."

Rangers, who stretched their winning streak to 10 consecutive SPL victories with a 4-0 demolition of Hearts on Wednesday, host Aberdeen this afternoon. Left-back Stevie Smith and centre-half Andy Webster, are both in the squad after long-term injuries.

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