Strikers show encouraging signs for Keegan

Celtic 1 Newcastle United 1
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The Independent Online
Celtic 1 Newcastle United 1

Amid the hype and celebration which accompanied the opening of Celtic's pounds 17m North Stand, Kevin Keegan evaded the key issue of the day: whether Newcastle are good enough to achieve their prime objective and win the Premiership.

Keegan and 31,000 including 1,700 from Newcastle saw for themselves the promise of a fledgling partnership between David Ginola and Les Ferdinand, although the third man in Keegan's pounds 12m summer spending spree, Warren Barton, did not feature in a friendly which provided a genuine work-out.

In Ferdinand Keegan is preparing to unleash an awesome power on the Premiership in his bid to win Newcastle's first major domestic trophy for 40 years. The former QPR striker scored a headed goal in the second half, rising above a defender at the far post and, in the final minutes, showed his potential. Collecting the ball on the half-way line he surged forward, evaded a couple of tackles and shot powerfully against the outside of the post.

"If you've got a monster up there, you have to feed it," said Keegan, who added about Ginola: "He is different from anything we've had. If the two of them get together they will have to carry a government health warning. We have a couple of games this week after which we should be firing on all cylinders."

There were only flashes of the promise of the partnership for Keegan to get excited about but they showed enough to suggest Newcastle could take the league by storm. One worry for Keegan will be a defensive display which was merely adequate and highlighted the loss of Barry Venison. Keegan will hope Barton can keep things tight at the back.

Celtic are also hoping to make an impact this season having watched their rivals, Rangers, being crowned league champions for the last seven years. Their display even in a friendly eclipsed the mundane performances which failed to inspire in their temporary home at Hampden.

Tommy Burns, leading a Celtic team as manager for the first time at Celtic Park, has several players capable of producing a spark of quality. Andreas Thom, the German striker signed for pounds 2.2m from Bayer Leverkusen, had a quiet debut although he was fouled by Darren Peacock to give Celtic a penalty which was scored by John Collins.

Collins was the outstanding player on the field, revelling in newly found freedom in the middle of the park. He was well served up front by Thom and Pierre van Hooijdonk, the Dutchman who showed that he is ready to make a massive impact on the Scottish game.

It will be interesting to see how Paul McStay, the captain, fits into Celtic's new team when he returns in a month's time from his second ankle operation of the , which takes place today and will keep him out of action for a month.

Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; Boyd, McNally, Mowbray, McKinlay; Vata (Donnelly, 75), Grant, Collins, O'Donnell; Van Hooijdonk, Thom (Walker, 70). Substitutes not used: Falconer, Bonner (gk).

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Hottiger, Peacock, Howey, Beresford; Lee, Fox, Beardsley, Sellars; Ferdinand, Ginola. Substitues not used: Clark, Watson, Elliott, Gibson, Gillespie, Hooper (gk).

Referee: H Dallas (Bonkle).