Nakamura ready for run-in

Shunsuke Nakamura insists he is ready for a hectic end to Celtic’s season after overcoming jet-lag to play in the Old Firm derby.

Shunsuke Nakamura insists he is ready for a hectic end to Celtic’s season after overcoming jet-lag to play in the Old Firm derby.

Midfielder Nakamura started Sunday’s goalless draw with Rangers four days after playing in Japan’s vital World Cup qualifier against Australia in Yokohama.

The 30-year-old is a notoriously poor traveller, which is one of the reasons he plans to quit Celtic in the summer and return home to play for Yokohama Marinos.

He has also been dogged by niggling injuries this season, but he is determined to leave Parkhead having helped the Hoops claim a fourth successive Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

He told the Scottish Daily Express: “We’ve played lots of games this season so far, but I am going to be prepared for the end of the season.”

To achieve his goal, Nakamura knows Celtic must improve on Sunday’s limp display.

He said: “We played well in the first half but they dominated the second half. We just couldn’t pass the ball around well enough.

“Everyone has to move more during the game. The first half was fine but we just didn’t keep things tight enough in the second half and we have to modify that.”

Celtic and Rangers also remain on course for a domestic treble, with next month’s Co-operative Insurance Cup final set to decide which of them is eliminated from that particular race.

Hoops striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink cannot wait for the all-Old Firm affair.

He said: “I’ve been told there hasn’t been a cup final between Celtic and Rangers for six years.

“Everyone tells me that it will be a special atmosphere for this one and I can’t wait. There will be a good build-up to the game and I’m looking forward to taking it all in.

“I have played in one final for Celtic already, but never against Rangers. It is a one-off match with a trophy at stake and I hope we can make a little bit of history.”

Meanwhile, Poland boss Leo Beenhakker believes Celtic boss Gordon Strachan has already reaped the rewards of standing by Artur Boruc.

Goalkeeper Boruc has endured a difficult season both on and off the field but was at his best to keep Rangers at bay on Sunday.

National team manager Beenhakker told the Scottish Sun: “Strachan has done a great job with Artur. He knows that at this moment, more than ever, the player deserves the support of the coach.

“I have to congratulate Strachan. Everyone deserves a second chance – and he is giving that to Artur.

“It is too easy for a manager to shove a player away, especially when everyone is asking him to do it.

“But Strachan has not done that and now he is getting his reward with Artur back to his best.

“Hopefully we can both now get a benefit, with Poland for the World Cup qualifiers and Celtic in their championship.”

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