herald

Monday 25 September 2017

O'Dea to prove worth in derby

Darren O'Dea plans to use tomorrow night's Old Firm derby to prove he has what it takes to become a Celtic regular next season.

Injuries to the likes of Glenn Loovens and Thomas Rogne have given the Dublin-born defender an extended run in the side.

O'Dea, 23, has grabbed that chance with both hands, helping the Hoops record six straight Scottish Premier League victories as well as scoring his first goal of the season in Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Motherwell.

"It's the first time in my career I have played a run of 10, 12 games and I feel I can only get better as a player," said O'Dea, who hopes to continue to impress interim manager Neil Lennon.



MOTIVATION

"Every game is a case of trying to prove yourself to Lenny and the fans, and I'm just hoping to keep hold of the jersey."

Steven Naismith insists Rangers' win at Dundee United proved there will be plenty of motivation in their squad for the rest of the season.

Despite having wrapped up the title six days earlier, the visitors won 2-1 at Tannadice.

Striker Naismith said: "Everybody maybe thought we were in holiday mode and didn't care about the result.

"But we wanted to keep the run going and there were a few changes so boys wanted to come in and show the manager they were capable of staying in the team and I thought everybody did that."

Hibernian goalkeeper Graeme Smith is relieved to have a quick chance to make amends for Saturday's Edinburgh derby defeat.

Hibs travel to Motherwell on the back of six straight defeats which have left their Europa League hopes hanging in the balance.

Smith said: "Like the rest of the boys in the team, you take responsibility for the defeats that come along, dust yourself down and do what you get paid for. There's no point going in your shell."

Kilmarnock boss Jimmy Calderwood insists his players cannot be faulted for effort, despite throwing away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to St Johnstone and join Falkirk at the foot of the table.

Killie crashed to a fourth straight defeat, meaning their fate will automatically be decided in a winner-takes-all clash with the Bairns on the final day of the season.

Calderwood said: "I know I'm not easy to get on with when we lose games but they are doing their best.

"It's just stupid, individual things that are causing us problems."

Stephen O'Donnell believes St Mirren proved once and for all they have the "bottle" in the battle to avoid the drop in their 1-1 draw at Falkirk.

Despite being a goal and a man down, the Buddies snatched a point that all but guarantees their survival.



BOTTLE

Midfielder O'Donnell, the visitors' hero with a late equaliser, said: "The boys have shown huge character, going down to 10 men in a game like that and coming away with a point -- that's bottle for you."

Mark McGhee believes Aberdeen's 3-1 defeat to Hamilton reinforces the need for him to make changes at Pittodrie this summer.

"I have known for some time what has to change but I can't do that until the summer," said McGhee, whose side finished with nine men on Saturday.

"I have funds and I will make the best of the funds that I have.

"When the new season starts, we will have a team that looks a lot different from the one that started against Hamilton."

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