Will Today's Winners Win The League?
Updated Sunday, 28th February 2010
Just how important is today's result for the majority of football fans?
Rangers troubled goalkeeper Allan McGregor will be in the squad for today's game against Celtic. There was a doubt over his involvement in the game after being allegedly attacked after a night out last weekend and injuring his eye. Lee McCulloch is also expected to be available for selection despite suffering a knock in training on Friday morning. Manager Walter Smith insists the Old Firm derby is a must-win game for both sides. A win for the home side would restore their 10-point lead at the top of the league and put a massive dent in Celtic's hopes of winning the championship.
Smith said: "It's a must-win game for us, never mind Celtic. We've got to go into the game hoping to win it. Both teams are exactly the same. There is a lot of football to be played before the end of the season so I don't say it's a must-win with regards to the championship because that would show a disregard to the rest of the teams in the league. There are quite a number of games to be played so it's too early for us to be making assumptions about championships. But, in terms of the Old Firm encounter, we must, as always, try and win."
Celtic's main doubt is Robbie Keane as the on-loan striker has not trained all week and will be assessed just before kick-off. Defender Edson Braafheid was another who was not involved in training in Friday due to a calf injury and defender Jos Hooiveld is still out with a hamstring injury. Manager Tony Mowbray can welcome back Aiden McGeady and Darren O'Dea from suspension while Glenn Loovens has a chance of playing after recovering from a hamstring problem. Mowbray is looking for referee Dougie McDonald to get "the big decisions right" in the game at Ibrox. McDonald and his assistants will be under intense scrutiny after an unknown Celtic source spoke to the BBC claiming the club were frustrated with major decisions that they believe had gone against them this season - including in the last two games against Rangers. Mowbray is adamant that Celtic are right to feel aggrieved at some refereeing decisions, including the denial of two penalties in the 2-1 defeat at Ibrox earlier in the season. Celtic striker Marc-Antoine Fortune also had a goal chalked off in the 1-1 draw against Rangers at Parkhead.
Mowbray said: "I am assuming the story has broken because this game is coming up. The last time we went to Ibrox we had some huge decisions that didn't go our way, to the extent that we had the official come out apologising to us the next day or so for getting things wrong. I don't think anyone would ever question the integrity of the officials anywhere in world football. But in my own mind this year there have been some decisions I have found very difficult to understand when I have looked back on them. But there is a big game coming up and this is probably not the time to discuss referees, yet unfortunately in football you can't gauge when these things break. Hopefully on Sunday, we get a good game and the referee gets all the big decisions right."
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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