Scottish Football: McAvennie ready to roam

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CELTIC, without a goal in 396 minutes of competitive football, may gamble on an old favourite, Frank McAvennie, to end their striking dearth today.

The Celtic manager, Liam Brady, is likely to use McAvennie as a substitute against St Johnstone at Parkhead. The 33-year-old is on a two-month contract after rejecting a move to Partick Thistle on his return from a spell in Hong Kong.

Celtic's current crop of strikers have failed to hit the target since Andy Payton's goal against Dundee on 12 December, with last weekend's 0-0 Scottish Cup draw against Clyde, of the Second Division, representing a low point in their troubled season. 'Frank has been doing really well,' Brady said. 'He has made a good contribution in training and his bubbly personality is a plus factor.' Tommy Coyne and Gerry Creaney are likely to start today's match, with McAvennie on the bench, awaiting his chance.

Celtic, who trail the Premier Division leaders, Rangers, by 12 points, will be without Tony Mowbray and perhaps Mike Galloway. Their opponents, St Johnstone, have had a quiet week - like several clubs, their ground has been closed by snow and some of their players have been stranded in various parts of Scotland.

Rangers, whose nearest rivals, Aberdeen, are seven points adrift, will be without Ian Ferguson for their second visit to Motherwell in a week. The midfield man missed last weekend's Cup win with a broken finger, and is not ready to return. Richard Gough has resumed light training following a thigh injury, but the Scotland defender is still out of contention.

Aberdeen, who entertain Airdrie, will be without Jim Bett for two months, after his stomach operation in London yesterday. Partick Thistle, at Falkirk, recall the former Bradford City midfielder, Leigh Palin, who was ineligible for last week's Cup defeat by Cowdenbeath. The bad weather has put paid to the Premier Division fixture between Dundee and Hearts.