O'Neill optimistic as Baldé stalls over new Celtic deal

Bobo Balde has yet to respond to Celtic's contract offer, the club's manager, Martin O'Neill, said yesterday.

Bobo Balde has yet to respond to Celtic's contract offer, the club's manager, Martin O'Neill, said yesterday.

O'Neill wants the centre-back to follow John Hartson by committing himself to a further spell with the Scottish champions. Baldé has not so far reacted to the offer and interested clubs are watching developments. But O'Neill said: "He is still considering what has been put to him. I think he would prefer to stay."

Celtic will be boosted by the return of Alan Thompson and Stanislav Varga for today's Premier League game against Motherwell at Parkhead. Thompson and Varga missed the win at Aberdeen last week through suspension and a knee injury respectively, but are back in the squad with Juninho and Stephen McManus likely to make way. Jackie McNamara and Baldé have been carrying minor injuries but will travel, while the midfielder Rocco Quinn joins the squad with Didier Agathe still out through injury.

Elsewhere, Rangers' new signing Sotirios Kyrgiakos will not feature in tomorrow's trip to Aberdeen. The defender, who has joined from Panathinaikos, has returned home before linking up with the club next week. The striker Nacho Novo returns from suspension but Shota Arveladze and Peter Lovenkrands are both still out.

The Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, said that he always raised his game as an Aberdeen player against the Glasgow side and he expects their current crop to provide equally stiff opposition. Trouble often brews on and off the pitch when Rangers visit Aberdeen and McLeish is prepared for a tough battle.

"As a player it was a huge fixture and I believe that Aberdeen players now still treat it as a huge fixture," he said. "They always raise their game. I always raised my game playing against Rangers, but now my focus is purely on Rangers. I see it as another difficult away venue to try to get the three points from. We are in this professional business to be ruthless."

McLeish, 46 yesterday, denied that tomorrow's result would be crucial in the title race, saying: "It won't make or break, but it would make it difficult if we didn't come back with the three points. We know to win any championship we have to go to places like Aberdeen and win."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence