Celtic's Dedryck Boyata ready for Motherwell Cup final challenge...after Aberdeen
Ladbrokes Premiership: Aberdeen v Celtic (Wednesday, 7.45pm, live on BT Sport 1)
CELTIC defender Dedryck Boyata will be ready for anything Motherwell bring to next month’s Betfred Cup final.
The Hoops came through their semi-final with a 4-2 win over Hibernian at Hampden Park on Saturday while much of the fall-out from Well’s 2-0 win over Rangers the following day was on the physical nature of the tie.
In bruising 90 minutes Gers defender Fabio Cardoso broke his nose in a challenge with Fir Park striker Ryan Bowman, with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers claiming the officials in the match lacked “authority.”
Ahead of the trip to Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership this evening, Boyata was relaxed about the showpiece game at on November 26.
The Belgium international said: “As a defender you can expect everything. You can play against a physical team, you can play against players who try to play, quick players.
“It is up to whatever you have in front of you. Of course, it is not going to be easy. It doesn’t mean if you play against a physical team or a team who plays football there is a team who is going to be easier.
“But yes, it is going to be physical but that’s how it is all the time.
“I think Motherwell did very well. I watched the game and they deserved that result.
“We have managed to get to the final which is a great achievement but now we are on to the next game, a big game on Wednesday, a very important game.
“So we focus on that game. The final is very important but it is not here yet.”
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson, meanwhile, is facing the very real prospect of a Hampden touchline ban following his dismissal in the Betfred Cup semi-final.
It is understood Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha will be offered a one-match ban following the pair’s dismissal on Sunday, but Robinson will have to wait to learn his fate at a hearing. Robinson has previously been punished by the Scottish Football Association and that could be taken into account when setting any potential sanctions.
With a date for a hearing not yet set, Robinson could find himself the victim of bad timing and be forced to sit in the stand for the final against Celtic on November 26.
The treble-winning Hoops are in the midst of a tough fixture period. After a Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich last Wednesday night in Munich was followed by the cup semi-final, Celtic now face the Dons who are behind them at the top of the table only on goal difference.
“It is definitely not easy,” said Boyata.
“We always work hard to stay at our best and play to win every game.
“Playing against Aberdeen is not easy. It is going to be a tough game.
“But I am sure we will be well prepared to challenge as much as we can.”
Jonny Hayes returns to the Celts’ squad for tonight’s game.
The former Dons winger has recovered from an abductor problem sustained on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.
Centre-back Jozo Simunovic remains out with a hamstring problem, while fellow defenders Anthony Ralston and Erik Sviatchenko are still working their way back from knee injuries.
Aberdeen’s Ryan Christie, meanwhile, will sit out the clash with his parent club under the terms of his loan agreement. But boss Derek McInnes will welcome midfielder Greg Tansey back after groin surgery.
The Pittodrie side have no other injury concerns.
Kenny McLean, however, will leave the club next summer, manager Derek McInnes has confirmed. The former St Mirren midfielder is out of contract at the end of the campaign and will not sign a new deal.
The news will alert Rangers, who had a £300,000 bid for the 25-year-old rejected in June.
McInnes said: “Unfortunately Kenny McLean has indicated he’s going to leave at the end of the season. And I am totally fine with that. Disappointed naturally, but grateful that Kenny and his agent have been honest enough to say that’s the intention.”
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