Strachan mulls Boruc's case for defence

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During the five-match absence of their Polish goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, who is recovering from minor knee surgery, Celtic have taken just eight points, allowing Rangers to move within two points of them at the top of the table with two games in hand. This constitutes a minor crisis at Celtic Park, and with an Old Firm derby on 2 January, the "minor" could be superfluous as early as Wednesday afternoon.

If, improbably, Celtic failed to beat Gretna at home this afternoon, it could be sooner. The big decision for Gordon Strachan today is whether to recall Boruc reportedly unsettled and the subject of transfer interest, including from Milan or continue with Mark Brown then throw the Pole back into action for the biggest domestic game of the season so far. Strachan will make a late decision on that, but is likely to retain Bobo Bald at centre-half today. Bald has been no more than a bit-part player during Strachan's reign and is also wanted elsewhere, notably by Birmingham's Alex McLeish.

Celtic could be usurped from the Scottish Premier League summit before they kick off. Rangers face Hibernian at Easter Road at lunchtime with faltering Hibs still in disarray after John Collins' shock resignation last week. Rangers' manager, Walter Smith, has two strikers back in contention after absences. Nacho Novo could return after a dislocated shoulder and Jean-Claude Darcheville following a family bereavement, although Smith has hinted neither is likely to play 90 minutes today and that he could hold them back for the Old Firm match.

Mark McGhee's third-placed Motherwell host Craig Levein's Dundee United with both managers under the spotlight as leading contenders to become the next Scotland manager. Heart of Midlothian, whose midweek defeat to St Mirren led to a private "clear the air" meeting of players to discuss their slump to third-bottom, travel to Falkirk.