O'Neill laughs off Juninho's criticism

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, has defended his team's style of play and the general standard of the Scottish game from comments by Juninho following his departure.

The Brazilian was quoted as saying he never got a proper chance under O'Neill because of the manager's tactics, while Premier League football was "ridiculous". O'Neill, who joked that he had also blamed everybody but himself when he had to leave Nottingham Forest as a player, countered: "I have seen those things about the long ball dozens of times, but the likes of Neil Lennon, Stilian Petrov, Aiden McGeady and Craig Bellamy are hardly long-ball specialists."

Hearts visit the league leaders today, with Celtic lacking goalkeeper Robert Douglas (groin). Bellamy came back from international duty with a knock but should play. John Hartson (ankle) could be missing but Chris Sutton is now fully fit after pulling his hamstring.

The Hearts midfielder Saulius Mikoliunas had his five-game ban for "exceptional misconduct" cut to three by the Scottish Football Association.

Tomorrow, second-placed Rangers visit Motherwell, who will be without the suspended Jim Hamilton and Shaun Fagan. Terry Butcher's sixth-placed side will want to avenge the 5-1 CIS Insurance Cup final defeat to Rangers two weeks ago.

The Rangers defender Marvin Andrews will not be available. The centre-back had been keen to play despite suffering cruciate ligament damage last month but the club, who want him to have an operation, have vetoed his comeback. Midfielder Thomas Buffel is a doubt after picking up a thigh injury playing for Belgium in midweek.