Weir backs Celtic strikers to fire again – after final

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The Independent Online

The Rangers defender David Weir has tipped the goal-shy Celtic duo of Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras to find the net again soon but hopes their return to form comes after Sunday's Co-operative Insurance Cup final. Both Hoops strikers have been under fire in recent weeks but criticism has intensified following their side's Scottish Cup exit to St Mirren on Saturday, which left the pair without a goal in their last 25 games between them.

Samaras has hit the buffers since enjoying a fine start to the season, which saw him notch 10 goals by early October, while Vennegoor of Hesselink has only scored in one game this term, a brace in September's 3-2 home win over Aberdeen. Scott McDonald, who grabbed his 14th and 15th goals of the season in last week's win at Kilmarnock to take Celtic three points clear of Rangers at the top of the SPL, will carry the majority of Hoops hopes at Hampden on Sunday, with manager Gordon Strachan left with the dilemma of which off-form striker to pick as his partner. Weir, however, does not take any comfort from his Old Firm rivals' struggle for form.

"Not at all," he said. "They will score at some point. They are top players, international players and not scoring goals, it's not going to be permanent. Every player goes through a spell where nothing goes right for them but there will come a time when it does go right but hopefully it's not Sunday.

"It's up to us to make sure they don't [score]. It's about how your opponent plays on the day and how you play yourself. The priority is to make sure you are right and your team is right.

Weir expanded his protection of Vennegoor of Hesselink and Samaras to strongly refute the general criticism which enveloped both Old Firm clubs following last month's goalless derby draw in the SPL. The defender disagrees with the doom-mongers, who claimed the game typified a decline in Scottish football. He said: "There has been a lot of criticism about the standard of Scottish football players and I don't agree. I think it's wrong, full stop. Last season, Rangers were in the Uefa Cup final and Celtic were in the last 16 of the Champions League. And Scotland have had some fantastic results."