Strachan praises Celtic's spirit but injuries take toll

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The Independent Football

Celtic return to domestic competition today physically diminished by Wednesday's Champions' League match at Manchester United but full of the spirit that allowed them to leave Old Trafford with their heads high.

Mark Wilson will miss today's home game with Dunfermline and the right-back will be out for six weeks after breaking a foot in the match. His fellow defenders Stephen McManus, Gary Caldwell and Lee Naylor are carrying thigh, heel and ankle injuries respectively. They may play but Bobo Baldé is on standby to deputise. Celtic's manager, Gordon Strachan, said he was "fine" with his side's 3-2 defeat, although he added: "With a bit more concentration we could have got one of the great results in the history of the club."

Showing signs that his supposed truce with Alex Ferguson is more fragile than claimed, he responded fiestily to Ferguson's suggestion that United could have scored 10 goals.

"We could have had six or seven as well so that would have been a heck of a game," he said. "Jan [Vennegoor of Hesselink] had the best chance of anybody in the game from the header.

"I don't know if he [Ferguson] is counting the [disputed] penalty [converted by Ryan Giggs] as one of [United's] chances. I'm not having that as a chance."

Strachan singled out Wilson as an example of his team's desire to compete. "In terms of camaraderie and team spirit he epitomises that, having played 20 minutes with a broken foot. The back four all had bad injuries but you couldn't drag them off - you can't get better than that."

Rangers and Hearts, who lie second and third behind Celtic this morning, both play tomorrow, after Uefa Cup ties on Thursday. Rangers visit Hibernian, with new defender Sasa Papac likely to make his debut.

Hearts travel to ailing Motherwell hoping to get their own season back on track after two defeats.

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