McManus keen to battle through injury

Celtic skipper Stephen McManus is desperate not to miss out on the title run-in after suffering a calf injury against Rangers.

The Scotland defender limped off midway through the second half of Celtic’s 3-2 derby victory on Sunday.

But he is hopeful of making Saturday’s trip to Motherwell as Celtic look to extend their five-point lead at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

“There’s three games to go and you don’t want to miss any,” McManus said.

“We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of days. I got a bang on my calf and it was just tightening up so it’s just a strain I suppose.”

McManus and manager Gordon Strachan met up with Motherwell counterparts Mark McGhee and Stephen Craigan yesterday to promote a tribute match to Phil O’Donnell, who graced both clubs before his death in December last year.

Celtic’s 1998 championship-winning team, including Henrik Larsson, will play members of the Motherwell team that won the 1991 Scottish Cup final, when a teenage O’Donnell scored his first senior goal.

McManus said: “Phil was a role-model. I was fortunate to know Phil before I came in full-time.

“I was a young kid who had left school at 15, and Phil was from Hamilton as well.

“I was young and used to get pelters from the first-team lads, which is what it was all about. You had a lot of respect for every one of them.

“I think it’s been a strange season for everyone involved, and this is a great way to celebrate Phil’s life for his family, everyone that knew him and everyone who played with him, because he was such a fantastic guy and a great player.”

Strachan is delighted that Larsson will return to Celtic Park on May 25 to pay tribute to former team-mate O’Donnell.

“It rekindles a lot of memories for fans when they see him out there, and I am sure it is going to be fantastic,” he said.

“It might depend on what happens in the next couple of weeks, but I would like to think that whatever happens there will be a bumper crowd there. It’s a celebration now.

“We’ve got to the stage now where the footballing side of Phil O’Donnell has been mourned for a long time.

“It might be closure on the football side but we’ll never forget Phil O’Donnell the man.

“I think this might be the one his family regard as the biggie, and want to see it done in style.

“The two occasions are right for both parties – Henrik coming back in celebration of Phil O’Donnell. Henrik is coming back at just the perfect time.”

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