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Friday 15 December 2017

Italian job is top of Ronny Deila's hitlist

Celtic boss has sights on clash with Inter as cup win sends Bhoys closer to 'treble'

Celtic manager Ronny Deila
Celtic manager Ronny Deila
Leigh

Ronny Deila is turning his attention to Inter Milan.

Celtic won their sixth match on the bounce against Dundee on Saturday to seal their spot in the last eight of the Scottish Cup with their place in the final of the League Cup booked with last Sunday's win over Rangers at Hampden.

Those results plus the signings of Dundee United duo Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven have given Celtic a massive lift complimented by the new deal signed by Kris Commons.

Deila's Celtic reign started with the unusual distinction of Champions League qualifying defeats to Legia Warsaw and Maribor but the Europa League has given the manager a route to redemption.

Last night the Norwegian watched Inter against Palermo knowing that a win against Roberto Mancini's side will send his stock soaring.

"I'm really looking forward to those matches against Inter now," Deila said after the win at Dundee. "I'm much more confident now in that we're together and know how we want to play. We'll have a big test against Inter but I'm excited about it.

DEVELOP

"The team developing the most will win the tie. And my teams develop all the time, we never stop. We're working hard every day to get the small things right. We'll see how far we've come when we face Inter."

Anthony Stokes replaced Commons at half-time in the win over Dundee and while delighted with the win was less than happy at picking up a booking. Using his twitter account he said: "Could have been a few more today but great result! Don't know how I got a yellow by the way strange decision!"

After his night out at the San Siro, Deila must turn his attention to Wednesday's trip across Glasgow to face Partick Thistle on league duty.

Aberdeen's 4-0 win over Ross County on Saturday saw Derek McInnes' side draw level on points with Celtic but with two games in hand and the Dons travelling to Parkhead on March 1 Deila's team are in the driving seat domestically as they prepare to test Mancini's men on February 19 and 26.

Meanwhile, in-form Leigh Griffiths is driven by the belief that one poor performance could cost him his Celtic place.

The 24-year-old former Wolves striker scored his third goal in four games against Dundee at Dens Park on Saturday to set the visitors on their way to a comfortable 2-0 win and a place in the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final draw, which takes place at Hampden Park this afternoon.

It was the sixth start in a row for the Scotland international, who was on the periphery of Deila's team earlier in the season.

John Guidetti, Stefan Scepovic and at times Stokes were ahead of him in the pecking order for the main striker's role and there was speculation linking Griffiths with a January transfer window move to Hibernian, for whom he had two successful loan spells while a Molineux player.

However, while currently the man in possession, the former Livingston and Dundee player, who joined the Parkhead club on a four-year deal just over a year ago, is certainly not taking his place for granted.

"I was delighted with my goal because the only way I'm going to stay in the team is by doing that," he said.

"That's why I was brought to the club and I'm in a good vein of form right now.

"I need to keep it going, though, because I know that one bad performance and I could be out.

"It only takes one bad game. I know I have John Guidetti and Stefan Scepovic breathing down my neck wanting the jersey.

"That's what keeps you on your toes, I had to wait when they were in the team so I don't want to drop out again.

"I work hard every day in training and when I'm selected I'll run myself into the ground to stay there."

TREBLE

The Parkhead club, top of the Premiership and facing Dundee United in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden next month, are on course for an historic domestic treble.

Deila claimed the win over Dundee was as good a display as he had witnessed from his team since taking over from Neil Lennon in the summer, certainly in terms of work-rate, although he claimed there was "still more to go".

Griffiths admits he is benefiting from the Norwegian's fitness philosophy.

"I'm as fit as I've been in my career, we work at a high tempo every day in training," he said. "And it shows on a Saturday because we're able to press for 90 minutes.

"We keep the ball and can hurt teams. You are seeing the best of us now."

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