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Jar O'Sick out of Old Firm game


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Celtic lose Jarosik for Old Firm clash but Rangers make light of Strachan's mind games

Ewan Murray

Monday December 31, 2007

The Guardian

Gordon Strachan's midfield options for Wednesday's Old Firm match at Parkhead have been limited by a hamstring injury sustained by Jiri Jarosik which will keep the Czech player out for about a fortnight.

With Aiden McGeady suspended and Shunsuke Nakamura injured, Jarosik would have started against Rangers but the Celtic manager may now have to field Derek Riordan on the left of his midfield unless, improbably, a deal to sign Barry Robson or James McFadden is completed over the next 48 hours.

Robson would cost £1.25m from Dundee United and McFadden, who is also a target for Birmingham City, is valued in excess of £3m by Everton, who are unwilling to let the Scotland international join his boyhood heroes on loan. The Scottish champions have also been offered Barcelona's Santiago Ezquerro but have denied reports that Nakamura will move to Yokohama Marinos in his native Japan.

Celtic hold a two-point advantage over their oldest rivals at the top of the Premier League but Rangers have the same number of games in hand, which Strachan has said makes his team the underdogs to clinch a third successive title. The manager said he "didn't enjoy" Celtic's 3-0 victory over struggling Gretna on Saturday, in which Scott McDonald, Scott Brown and McGeady supplied the goals, and they now face a Rangers side who have won the past three Glasgow derbies.

But Stephen McManus, the Celtic captain, has insisted his team remain relaxed. "I don't think we feel as if we are under as much pressure as people make out," he said. "Three Old Firm defeats in a row is obviously great ammunition for the press to make headlines out of but we've been taking it a game at a time."

The Rangers captain, Barry Ferguson, has revealed that tactics will be the last thing on the agenda in the visiting dressing room on Wednesday. Rangers cross the city in fine fettle after producing arguably their most convincing performance of the season on Saturday in defeating Hibernian 2-1. "To be honest there's not much of a team talk," said Ferguson of his manager Walter Smith's preparations. "It will be his shortest team talk of the season. It's down to how strong you are inside. I'm positive that all the guys in our squad know what it's all about. There are no tactics - it is a battle from start to finish and whoever wins that battle will win the game."

Ferguson also dismissed Strachan's suggestion that Rangers are favourites to win the championship. "We've not won the games in hand yet so we're still behind in the league. It depends whether we win the games or not, whether we will have the upper hand.

"You're always anxious to get to pole position in the league. I'd rather the games that were called off, the St Mirren and Gretna games, hadn't been. I'd rather have got them out of the way, got the points and hopefully have been sitting on top. But we're not on top, Celtic are still in pole position. We've got two away games against two teams who are fighting at the bottom of the league so they're going to be two difficult games for us."

Steven Naismith handed Rangers an early lead against Hibs and Daniel Cousin fired home from 18 yards to double the visitors' advantage. Merouane Zemmama scored a late consolation for Hibs, who hope to name John Collins' replacement as manager this week.


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Aye, and then all of a sudden he'll make a mircaulous recovery by wednesday.

Strapon, your schemes are too obvious.

i kinda see that coming as well...

a ridiculous little bastard he is....

we'll beat them whoever they may field :rangers:

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