Celtic travel to Belfast for tonight's game against Cliftonville in the first meeting between the clubs for 25 years. The clubs will celebrate the 130th anniversary of Cliftonville and boss Tony Mowbray will use the opportunity to give first team squad players some valuable game time. Zheng Zhi, Barry Robson, Lee Naylor, Marc Crosas and Koki Mizuno will all take part in the match and goalkeepers Lukasz Zaluska and Dominic Cervi will both be hoping to take the field at some point during the game which will kick-off before a sell-out Solitude crowd at 7.30pm.
Zheng Zhi will be hoping to take another step towards gaining match fitness and a regular first team berth after his eye-catching debut at Ibrox. "To be honest, I didn't expect to play." he said "I'd spoken to the manager beforehand and we had agreed I might need more fitness. But, the day before the derby, Barry Robson was injured. It meant the manager had to make a quick decision.
"I'd heard about the Old Firm game before I moved here." said Zhi "I realise it's a big, important game, not just in Scotland, but across Europe and in football in general. I thought I did okay in this match, but I think it helped me I got a lot of experience in England. It helped prepare me for this match and gave me an idea of what to expect."
Celtic fans at the Hunnery were also surprised by the manager's decision to play Zhi just behind Scott McDonald but the experienced Chinese international insisted that he was perfectly comfortable in that role. "I can play as a second striker, but I can also play in the centre of midfield." said Celtic's number 27. "Where I play is really up to the manager and he was the main reason that I joined Celtic. I hope we can work well together and have a good relationship."
The Chinese national captain is hoping that he can carve his name into the club's history books and he hopes to begin that task by reclaiming the SPL title this season. "I hope that I can be a successful player here and win the league this season," said ZZ. "I know that Celtic has a long history and lots of supporters and I hope that when I leave I have a good name at the club and among the supporters and that people remember me."