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O'DEA'S 'FIRM' WARNING

Former Celtic defender Darren O'Dea has told Old Firm debutants to "brace yourself" ahead of the League Cup semi-final clash between the Glasgow giants next year.

The hype is well under way following Saturday's last-four draw even though the match will not take place until the end of January or early February.

O'Dea, 27, knows all about the fixture and his best moment in the hoops came when he scored in the 2-0 League Cup final win over the Ibrox side at Hampden in 2009.

The Dubliner was back at the Scottish national stadium on Monday to help make the Scottish Cup fourth-round draw where five all-Premiership ties came out of the hat while Celtic will go to Championship leaders Hearts with Rangers hosting Kilmarnock.

However, it was the League Cups semis which dominated his interviews.

And the Republic of Ireland defender - currently training with Celtic following his departure from Metalurh Donetsk due to the unrest in Ukraine, had a simple piece of advice for those in the Rangers and Celtic squads who not yet played in an Old Firm game.

"Brace yourself," he said.

"I think it will be bigger than it has been before. The build-up to it will be absolutely massive.

"Sometimes you would say just play the game as a normal game but I don't buy into that. It is bigger than that.

"It is the biggest game of your career, whether you are a Celtic player or Rangers player. I played in a few of them. Growing up a Celtic kid, it is the game you always want to be involved in.

"I have played in different types of Old Firm games. Sometimes it is whoever is better on the day and who handles the atmosphere but I have played in Old Firm games where football is secondary to who wants it more.

"It will be interesting to see what type of game it will be.

"So yes, get ready."

FAVOURITES

The last time the two sides met was in April, 2012 before Rangers resumed at the bottom tier of Scottish football following their descent in administration and liquidation but O'Dea believes "it is something Scottish football needs"

He said: "Celtic people might say they don't need Rangers, likewise the other way round, but I think Scottish football is better off with the two of them.

"The way Rangers have gone the last few years, it is just natural that Celtic will be favourites but once the game starts it won't matter.

"It will be about on the day, who performs and who wants it more."

The most striking aspect of the Scottish Cup draw was the certainty that the next round will be robbed of seven of Scotland's top clubs.

St Johnstone host Ross County, Inverness travel to St Mirren and Dundee welcome Aberdeen.

Dundee United will travel to Motherwell while Partick and Hamilton meet at Firhill.

O'Dea said: "There is obviously a lot of big teams drawn against each other so maybe it gives an advantage to some of the smaller teams who will get through.

"It is a very exciting draw."


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