The Valencia coach, Rafael Benitez, may have handed Celtic a psychological initiative for tonight's first leg of their Uefa Cup third-round tie at the Mestalla stadium by dropping the influential Argentinian winger Kily Gonzalez from his squad.
The former Boca Juniors and Zaragoza player has paid the price for a show of petulance in last weekend's draw with Tenerife. He refused to shake his coach's hand after being substituted during the second half of the Spanish League match.
The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, believes his side have nothing to fear in Spain. "We know that it's going to be hard, but we feel that if we play as strongly as we have done in some of the Champions' League matches we've had, we're as good as anyone. Our home form was excellent and the way we played against Ajax was also terrific."
The Celtic winger Didier Agathe has been ruled out for at least three months with knee ligament damage. The fitness of Alan Thompson is still causing O'Neill some anxiety after he limped out of training days ago with a suspected hamstring strain, while Joos Valgaeren, who missed Saturday's victory over Hearts with a knee injury, is on the mend and O'Neill is optimistic the pair will be fit in time for tonight.
Both will take late fitness tests but, even if they fail to make it, O'Neill says he is unlikely to alter his attacking game-plan in the hope of claiming a crucial away goal.
"When you are playing away from home you want to try and get yourself a goal," O'Neill said. "So we've got to try and be positive, because if you are penned in all evening then the chances are you will concede."
Valencia, Champions' League runners-up for the last two seasons, have been weakened by the departure of leading players such as Gaizka Mendieta.Reuse content