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Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Van Dijk is still one of the Bhoys'

Celtic pour cold water on transfer talk

Scott Allan
Scott Allan

Virgil Van Dijk will play for Celtic in their crunch Champions League play-off clash with Malmo tomorrow night.

Reports suggest that Southampton had won the race to sign the 24-year-old Dutch defender in a £10million deal, and that consequently he would miss the second leg in Sweden to join up with the south coast club.

However, a spokesman for the Scottish champions said: "The story is absolute nonsense and Virgil will play on Tuesday. We have no agreement with any club."

Van Dijk, linked with several English clubs, was one of nine players left out by Hoops boss Ronny Deila for the 3-1 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday, with the trip to Malmo in mind.

Celtic lead 3-2 from the first leg in Glasgow, with entry into the group stages reportedly set to earn the Glasgow club at least £16m.

manager Ronny Deila left for Sweden today with faith in his squad after a much-changed team won at Dundee United.

Only Emilio Izaguirre and Leigh Griffiths retained their places following Celtic's triumph over Malmo in the first leg of the Champions League play-offs.

The latter rejected the opportunity of a rest in order to continue his goalscoring form following his double against the Swedes and he did so within 17 minutes at Tannadice after latching on to Izaguirre's through ball and rounding Luis Zwick.

Deila was given much food for thought as several players boosted their prospects of involvement in Sweden. Charlie Mulgrew dominated the centre of the park in the first half and Kris Commons worked his way into five good shooting positions inside the box, forcing three good saves from Zwick and seeing another effort cleared off the line by Mark Durnan, who later turned the playmaker's pass into his own net.

Callum McGregor also returned to goalscoring form by netting a deflected strike in the 74th minute to wrap up the points after United improved following a one-sided first 40 minutes.

Deila said: "It gives us confidence and it's competition. There is a squad there that is going to go and perform together. We have options in the team and also coming off the bench and that's going to be important."

The Norwegian also handed a debut to Scott Allan, who looked confident on the ball in his 23 minutes on the park in the left midfield slot.

Deila said: "I have only seen him for two or three days in training so it's a bit early but he had the confidence to come on and show talent."

With Mikael Lustig a doubt for Malmo with a hamstring injury, Deila handed Saidy Janko the chance to shine at right-back. The former Manchester United player made some strong runs down the right in the opening half, although his delivery was a touch erratic.

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