Celtic's Varga travels to Pittodrie despite back pain

Gordon Tynan
Saturday 24 January 2004 01:00

Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, is hopeful Stanislav Varga will be fit in time for their Scottish Premier League game against Aberdeen today. The defender missed training yesterday after suffering back spasms but will make the trip to Pittodrie for the lunchtime kick-off. Alan Thompson remains on the sidelines with a calf problem that has kept him out of action longer than expected.

Aberdeen will be without Russell Anderson and Scott Booth. The defender Anderson has a leg injury, while the striker Booth suffered an Achilles problem in the Scottish Cup win at Dundee on Wednesday. The midfielder Steve Tosh is fit despite taking a slight knock in the Cup tie, with Phil McGuire and David Zdrilic set to start. Scott Muirhead is also expected to start, while the new signing from Celtic, the striker Bryan Prunty, will be on the bench.

For their home game against Livingston, Rangers welcome back Ronald de Boer for the first time since August. The Dutchman has had two knee operations since then, but is set to make his comeback, probably as a substitute. Fernando Ricksen returns following illness, but two players face fitness tests today, Mike Arteta (leg) and Egil Ostenstad (Achilles trouble).

The Livingston manager, Davie Hay, has a full squad and he has now been able to name a full complement of players for the third successive week.

The Dundee United manager, Ian McCall, is without three players for the derby with Dundee tomorrow. Chris Innes has almost overcome his groin injury, but is short of match fitness.

Dundee welcome back the midfielder Mark Fotheringham after a one-match suspension. Their manager, Jim Duffy, also includes Brent Sancho, who had been out with a jarred knee, and the new signing Neil Barrett, who has joined on loan from Portsmouth. Tom Hutchinson, who has an abductor muscle injury, is still missing.

Kilmarnock are set to hand their Preston loan signing Eric Skora his debut for the visit of Hibernian today. The midfielder Paul Di Giacomo is now the only player left in the treatment room after Alan Mahood, Craig Dargo and Shaun Dillon returned to training this week. Di Giacomo has undergone a cartilage operation, but Mahood, Dargo and Dillon need more match practice.

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