Celtic V Ross County at Celtic Park : Match Preview

By
23 April 2016
Celtic V Ross County - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Celtic boss Ronny Deila looking for positive reaction to derby defeat

Manager Ronny Deila wants his Celtic side to discard any lingering Old Firm misery to finish the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign in style.

The Hoops were beaten by Rangers in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in their William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park last Sunday.

After speculation about the Norwegian's future increased in the aftermath of a poor performance against their traditional rivals, it was announced on Wednesday morning he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

The former Stromsgodset boss cited a lack of improvement in his team over the last six months.

Nevertheless, Celtic are eight points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table - the Dons have also played a game more and realistic titles hopes surely ended with a 3-0 defeat at St Johnstone on Friday night - with five post-split games remaining.

The first of those fixtures is against Ross County at Parkhead on Sunday and Deila insists there will be no radical changes to his side as he zones in on his second and the club's fifth successive title.

"We are not going to change everything around," he said. "We have won a lot of football games. We lost at the weekend but before that we hadn't lost since February.

"This game is going to be very important. We want to bounce back from the disappointment we had at the weekend because that was a very big blow for everybody and I could see that in the eyes of the players.

"Wanting to bounce back in a very strong way and put the pressure on everybody else, that is what we want to see out on the pitch on Sunday."

Much of the criticism directed at Deila has been due to his failure to take the club into the Champions League.

It would take a remarkable collapse for Celtic to fail to win the title which secures another crack at European football's elite club competition next season via the qualifiers.

However, even that was not enough to tempt Deila to remain at Parkhead for a third season.

"I was thinking that but it is about seeing that I get improvement," he said.

"If I see that the team are taking steps then I carry on. But I haven't seen that improvement for the last six months."

Dedryck Boyata is a doubt for Celtic after he came off with a knock against Rangers. Centre-back Jozo Simunovic remains out with a knee injury.

Ross County boss Jim McIntyre has told his side they still have plenty to play for despite missing out on a European ticket.

Rangers' victory over Celtic means Scotland's third Europa League slot will go to the winner of their May 21 showdown with fellow finalists Hibernian.

That foiled County, St Johnstone and Motherwell, who were all hoping for a Hoops cup triumph that would have seen the team finishing fourth in the Premiership rewarded instead.

But McIntyre's men - level with fifth-placed Saints and a point behind Well - can better 2012's fifth-place finish and clinch their highest top-flight placing if they can fight their way past their nearest rivals.

A win away to Celtic on Sunday would go a long way to achieving that feat.

McIntyre said: "It's important we maintain focus but I'm confident we have a group of players who will do that. Whether results go our way or not remains to be seen, but it certainly won't be because we've slacked off.

"We will be determined to move up a couple of places. It is important financially for the club, while this group of players can also finish in the club's highest ever position in the top flight so there's still a lot to play for."

The Highlanders have already had a season to remember after landing their first major trophy with March's League Cup win and clinching a top-six slot.

They beat Celtic in the semi-finals on the way to their Hampden victory against Hibernian and McIntyre is delighted to see that his team are hungry for a repeat against Deila's team.

He added: "I think team spirit is everything. Your group has got to be tight and work for each other. If you get that, it can take you a long way.

"Could it take us to a win at Celtic Park? Of course. There's no reason why we can't got there and win. We've shown this season we're capable of doing that, not only in the semi-final but also in the league games."



County will be without suspended duo Andrew Davies and Martin Woods.

Former Hoops trainee Jackson Irvine returns to the squad after a month out with an ankle problem. Craig Curran (concussion) remains out while Jamie Reckord has been released.


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