Celtic captain Paul Lambert insists the Parkhead players will not allow the controversy surrounding their Christmas night out to distract them from the business of winning games.
The Hoops have a chance to cut Rangers’ lead down to a single point if they beat Dundee at Parkhead tomorrow ahead of their rivals’ Sunday date at Partick.
Lambert today issued a public apology to the fans in the wake of the arrests in Newcastle earlier in the week during the players’ Christmas night out.
And he was adamant that the players were keen to give those supporters a win tomorrow to take their mind off the lurid headlines.
He said: “Our job is to win games and tomorrow we’ll go out and play as well as we have done and hopefully we can win. It’s a hard game for us but we have to win every game and tomorrow will be no different.
“We have to play well. If we win it cuts the gap a wee bit – we have to keep hanging in there.
“It’s only one game really and I’ve said before that points will be dropped. We just have to win our games and see what happens the next time we play Rangers.
“The players are fine. They’ll be ready for this – there’s no doubt about that. That’s their job and they’re professional enough to go out and do it.
“I’m sure the fans will get right behind us and give us the backing they always give us.
“We’ve trained and worked just as hard as normal and tomorrow we’ll go out to play as well as we can and hopefully we can win the game.
“We’re still involved in every tournament, including the UEFA Cup and we have to keep on winning. We have to take maximum points and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, manager Martin O’Neill said the return of Brazilian misfit Rafael Scheidt to Parkhead was not a formality.
The former Brazil cap has been loaned out to Corinthians in his homeland for the past two seasons.
And while O’Neill took pains to point out that Celtic were no longer paying his wages, he could not be as specific about a touted return because of cash problems at the Brazilian club.
He said: “The club as I understand it would like to retain his services but are finding, as we all are, money a bit of a problem.
“I’m not so sure what the work permit situation is now. I would need to go and check but if Rafael comes back here and gets his work permit he will get the same opportunity he got before to try and get into the side.
“His loan deal runs out at the end of the month so I would expect to know relatively quickly.”