SPL: Hartson confident of hoops victory

John Hartson reckons all-conquering Celtic are ready to jump another important hurdle on their way to retaining the Scottish Premier League title.

John Hartson reckons all-conquering Celtic are ready to jump another important hurdle on their way to retaining the Scottish Premier League title.

With rivals Rangers trailing a distant second in a race that appears already close to being wrapped up, Celtic could be forgiven for relaxing during the holiday period.

But tomorrow they must put their unbeaten record on the line at Aberdeen against a side that has forged a fearsome reputation of its own on their own patch.

Aberdeen can equal a club record for successive home wins, having racked up eight in a row so far.

Hartson, who was a scorer at Livingston in the CIS Insurance Cup on Wednesday, said: ‘‘We know it’s going to be a hard game.

‘‘Teams raise their game when you are top of the league. They try to knock you off there. But if we are prepared and are up for the game then I’m sure we will be OK.’’

The Welshman admitted he knew little about the Dons other than that Robbie Winters is a regular scorer and that manager Ebbe Skovdahl is highly-rated.

But he also revealed he had discussed the fixture with none other than ex-Pittodrie legend Gordon Strachan, his former manager at Coventry.

He added: ‘‘I’m looking forward to it. It’s my first visit to Aberdeen.’’

Hartson admitted that Celtic’s winning streak, which has now stretched to 14 successive league games, had been achieved with a little sprinkling of luck on top of some hard graft.

He said: ‘‘Obviously we have been preparing properly for games and we have had a little bit of luck as well.

‘‘We have managed to score last-minute goals and needed a bit of brilliance from Henrik Larsson as well.

‘‘Others have chipped in with a few goals and if you combine that with the character that’s in the squad, that’s how you win games.’’

Livingston can go level on points with second-place Rangers if they beat Dunfermline at Almondvale and Alex McLeish’s side loses at home to Dundee United.

Livi were missing captain Stuart Lovell from the Celtic match because of a head injury sustained in last week’s 2-1 win over St Johnstone and he is now likely to return.

Dunfermline have been boosted by the return of goalkeeper Scott Thomson to training and he is expected to be on the bench tomorrow.

Midfielder David Nicholls played 90 minutes of the Fife Cup semi-final against Burntisland Shipyard after a spell on the sidelines with a head injury.

New loan signing Sean Kilgannon, the Middlesbrough midfielder, could be handed a debut but Jason Dair has a knee injury.

Dundee play hosts to Kilmarnock and Dee fans will be wondering if they will be treated to a first sight of new signing Khaled Kemas.

The 22-year-old French striker has joined the club until the end of the season and includes Paris St Germain as a former employer.

More in this section

Price info
IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox