O’Neill not ready to offload Douglas

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2

The Scotland number one's agent, Blair Morgan, revealed he had been given the all-clear to look for another club after the player fell behind Magnus Hedman as first choice.

The timing was especially strange as Douglas has just returned to the starting line-up and yesterday saved Derek Adams' dubious first-half penalty to set up the three valuable points.

O'Neill was disappointed with the remarks and claimed Douglas himself was far from happy with the story.

But if the former Dundee goalkeeper needed any convincing he was still wanted at Parkhead then it came immediately after yesterday's display in the way of glowing praise from his boss.

O'Neill said: "I think it stems from the time Magnus played in the Champions League games.

"In my own opinion they were both striving to get that confidence and he wanted to re-establish himself.

"Blair called me and I am always pretty sympathetic to people and he is an international goalkeepers. Maybe he was concerned about his international position.

"I will look at every situation in January time but unless I have some ready made replacements then I am not really ready to tell people to go out.

"I'm surprised Blair has chosen to put something out like that.

"He didn't put his wages in there as well did he? That's me being cynical but I'll have a word with Blair in the morning.

"Rab played today and put all that to the back of his mind. I don't think he's best pleased with it himself.

"He wants to be the goalkeeper here and that penalty save in front of the Celtic fans will help him enormously.

"He wants to re-establish himself and he's in the position at this minute. Magnus has a bit of a knee problem.

"But I was delighted with his performance today and that explains it the best."

O'Neill felt that save after referee John Underhill had incorrectly penalised Johan Mjallby for a challenge on David Clarkson was pivotal in Celtic regaining their eight-point lead over Rangers.

They were leading thanks to John Hartson's early goal and needed Alan Thompson's free-kick to seal the points.

But O'Neill clearly felt that justice was done after being stunned by the referee's "very poor" decision.

"It was a very hard game for us," O'Neill enthused. "We got off to a terrific start.

"But if anything that galvanised Motherwell and the penalty was the turning point. I was obviously delighted to see Rab save it.

"I didn't need replays to know that it wasn't a penalty. Clearly he (Mjallby) got the ball and that was a very poor decision by the referee. That was a big, big moment in the game."

Motherwell manager Terry Butcher was also shocked by the decision but despite his side suffering their fourth consecutive defeat he was far from downhearted with his side's display.

"I didn't think it was a penalty to start with," he laughed. "But I would have taken it had we scored.

"Had that gone in then I don't know whether we would have gone on to win.

"But I was very pleased with my players' performance. We've played worse than that and won games.

"We are hitting the post and missing penalties and things aren't going for us in front of goal but we pushed Celtic all the way."

O'Neill, meanwhile, revealed that he had made an appeal to UEFA over Neil Lennon's two-match European suspension.

"The deadline was last night and we have put something in," he said. "We are waiting to see what happens next."

MOTHERWELL: Marshall, Corrigan, Craigan, Quinn, Hammell, Lasley, Leitch (Dair 76), Adams, Pearson, Burns, Clarkson.

CELTIC: Douglas, Varga, Mjallby, Balde, Miller, Petrov, Lennon, Sutton, Thompson, Hartson, Larsson (Smith 41).

Referee: J Underhill.

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