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Monday 5 December 2016

Celts wait on Griffiths

Old Firm doubt for striker as Gers' boss Warburton looks to upset the odds

Leigh Griffiths is a fitness doubt for the Old Firm clash
Leigh Griffiths is a fitness doubt for the Old Firm clash

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is in an Old Firm fitness race after having a scan on his hamstring injury.

The Scotland international missed the 5-1 World Cup qualifying win over Malta on Sunday but had trained with the Hoops earlier this week.

Left-back Kieran Tierney also withdrew from Gordon Strachan's squad with an ankle problem but he should be ready for the Premiership clash between the two Glasgow clubs at Celtic Park tomorrow.

rest

Speaking at his pre-match press conference at the club's Lennoxtown training complex, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers said: "He (Griffiths) had a week's rest. He trained with us all week but not today, that was a light session.

"He had a scan and we will see how that is. But he looked good in training.

"Once we get the scan through and have a look at it, we need to look at what the risk would be of playing in the game.

"Of course, if there is a risk for longer term then we can't do it because it is a long season even though it feels like we have been playing for months already.

Rodgers, who could turn to Moussa Dembele up front, added: "He has been in great form but for whatever reason, if he didn't make it, hopefully you have seen with the squad, and as I said earlier in the season, we need to have goals around the team and that's the way it has been for us.

"I think Kieran will be fine, he trained this week, he didn't train last week.

"He really needed that week out with the number of little niggles he had but he seems fine, fit and strong and raring to go."

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Mark Warburton has revealed the Old Firm odds and pundit predictions featured heavily in their squad meeting ahead of tomorrow's clash.

Celtic are odds-on favourites for the Ladbrokes Premiership encounter while Rangers are approaching 5/1 with some bookmakers.

The champions have started their season on a high, reaching the Champions League group stages and topping the Premiership table despite playing a game less than Rangers, who have won twice and drawn twice in the league.

Celtic have netted 19 goals in five home matches this season but Warburton was quick to point out that Rangers belied their underdog status during last season's Scottish Cup semi-final.

Warburton said: "If you read the bookies' odds, there is no point us really turning up, which is fine.

"It's exactly the same scenario (as semi-final). We had analysis with the players just now and it's been pointed out by many of them: same scenario, we are going to get beaten by three or four. I read four minimum, one very wise pundit said.

"They are paid to give opinions, that's what the game is all about, so you respect that. But it's about us, it's about Rangers, it's about doing what we do.

"If we go there and we're brave and we get on the football and we move it quickly and do what we do well, we will be fine. If we don't, if we're sloppy, then we will have a tough afternoon.

"It's about us preparing well and being consistent in our preparation, training at the right intensity and quality, which we have been. It's a tough place to go but we are absolutely relishing this encounter."

changes

Celtic have undergone major changes since then, mostly in the dugout where Brendan Rodgers has stamped his authority after Ronny Deila appeared to lose his. They have also added the likes of Scott Sinclair and Kolo Toure but Warburton does not see it as a particularly different challenge.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I think it's the same. He has added a few players. I said to you when Brendan came in, he is a good organiser and he will absolutely look to organise Celtic and get them playing in a positive manner, and that has proven to be the case.

"But we can't control things away from here, we just look at Rangers. We are getting better, the squad are gelling really well, and I'm delighted with the quality of training."

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