Monday 24 October 2016

Deila's braced for title scrap with Aberdeen

Celts manager believes Dons have class for League battle

Celtic manager Ronny Deila
Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Boss Ronny Deila is happy to see Celtic end 2015 top of the Ladbrokes Premiership after Aberdeen passed up another chance to take over but he tipped the Dons to continue their challenge.

The Granite City club could have leapfrogged the champions at home to Inverness on Saturday but had to come back from two down to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw.

Then, after the Hoops drew 2-2 against Hearts at Tynecastle the following day, Celtic's match against Dundee was postponed due to a waterlogged Dens Park pitch on Wednesday night.

Derek McInnes's side could have moved to the summit again against Partick Thistle the same evening but they were held to a goalless draw at Pittodrie, which left them behind Celtic on goal difference having played two games more.

Ahead of the visit of Partick to Parkhead tomorrow, Deila was asked if he still felt Aberdeen will keep chasing.

"Yes, so far they have done well and they are a good football team," he said.

"As I say all the time, we have to wait until end of March before we see what actually is the title race.

"Hopefully it is just us, that is what we want and we have to do everything we can to win every game we play.

"We can't do so much about the others, we need to focus on our performances.

"We are in a good position, we have been there almost the whole season and for us now it is to get a similar performance that we had against Hearts, on Saturday, and get going.

"It has been a good Christmas. We haven't played as much football but trained a lot so we are looking forward to the game on Saturday."

Deila believes the experience of coping with leading from the front will stand them in good stead in the second half of the season. The Norwegian said: "There is pressure on every team to win, you need to have consistency and (to be able to) cope with the situation and you need to have unbelievable discipline in what you do."

Top scorer Leigh Griffiths could return against Thistle after being out for four games with a hamstring injury.

But Deila revealed defender Dedryck Boyata could be out for two or three weeks with a hamstring injury picked up against Hearts.

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