Mowbray tries to play down reunion with Old Firm referee

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The Independent Football

Tony Mowbray has no concerns with Celtic captain Scott Brown returning from suspension to face the man who controversially sent him off at Ibrox last month.

Referee Dougie McDonald caused a storm when he sent off the midfielder in the 1-0 defeat against Rangers after he tangled with Light Blues midfielder Kyle Lafferty.

The Parkhead club had criticised officials in the lead-up to the game and afterwards, through Celtic's official website, it was claimed that any "fair-minded person" would not have agreed with the decision.

Brown will serve the third game of his subsequent three-match SPL ban against St Mirren but will be available again for the visit of Killie on Saturday, where McDonald will be the man in the middle.

However, the Hoops manager was relaxed about the situation, saying: "I didn't know who Dougie McDonald was until someone explained to me that he was the referee at Ibrox.

"Do I have a problem with it? No. I think it was pretty obvious to everyone that it wasn't a sending-off but I don't think anyone questioned the ref's integrity. In his opinion, it was a sending-off, but to most of the rest of the world, it probably wasn't.

"So no one is questioning him. It is a difference of opinion, that's all. I'm sure he is a very good official and we have no problems with him."

Mowbray was more concerned about the trip to Paisley where the Hoops will be hoping to reduce Rangers' lead at the top of the SPL to seven points.

Given that most of Celtic's troubles this season has stemmed from defensive problems, the former Hibernian and West Brom manager was strangely reluctant to focus on the tightening up of his defence in recent games. It is the first time in two years that Celtic have kept three clean sheets in succession but Mowbray said: "Football is about winning games. It's not all about keeping clean sheets. It's not a bad statistic but I am not giving it too much consideration.

"We have young defenders and they are doing very well but sometimes if you talk about how good it has been it can become a story in the next game if you lose a couple of goals. We try and keep clean sheets in every game and we try and score goals in every games, that's how you win games."

Mowbray hinted that Lukasz Zaluska will again keep his place in goal for the trip to Paisley. Regular goalkeeper Artur Boruc returned from compassionate leave last week but was left on the bench in the win over St Johnstone at the weekend.

"Lukasz has had a couple of clean sheets which is good for his confidence and we'll see what happens as the season goes on," the former Celtic defender said.