Celtic keen to keep winning run as Rangers clash looms
Runaway Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers await this weekend for Neil Lennon’s chasing Celtic pack.
Lennon's side will need to win their remaining Rangers’ encounters this season, starting at Ibrox on Saturday, and can’t afford to slip up themselves in the race for the title.
Following on from their 3-0 St Stephen’s Day win over Hamilton, claiming all three points against Dundee United this afternoon (3pm) would set Celtic up nicely for the Rangers clash.
Celtic are currently sitting in second place, 16 points behind Steven Gerrard’s squad at the top of the Premiership table – 56 points to 40 - but have three games in hand over their Glasgow rivals.
The former Hoops captain may be facing pressure to reel back that Rangers’ lead but he says he does not expect to see many new faces when the transfer window opens in January and especially not in the goalkeeping department.
Conor Hazard has taken over as number one from Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain in recent weeks but asked if he was looking to strengthen in that area, Lennon said: "I don't think it will be an area that we will be looking to strengthen at all.
"We have three very capable goalkeepers. So, in short, the answer is no.
"I am pleased with his (Hazard's) progress. He's only had three or four senior games and he has already won a Scottish Cup medal so it is a pretty impressive start to his career.
"You are always looking at options and who may come available but we haven't really struck a blow in any direction regarding that.
"At the minute I am quite content. We only have one injury really (James Forrest), the squad is vibrant and hopefully James will be back in training in a couple of weeks."
Ahead of today’s Dundee United clash Lennon told the Celtic FC website: “I don’t think this will be a defining moment, not with so many games left.
“We’re on a decent run, we want to maintain it.
“We had a bad run there, but we’re starting to show a bit of good form and consistency.
“The team is capable of going on a run now.
“Our fitness levels look good and our intent at the weekend looked good as well.
“Players fighting for positions has galvanised the squad as well, and winning games breeds confidence.
“We’ll try to break them down the best we can, and also stay mindful of their attack at the other end.''
Other team news from both camps last night said Christopher Jullien returns to the Celtic squad for the game.
The French defender missed the 3-0 win over Hamilton on Boxing Day with a slight knee injury.
Winger James Forrest remains on the sidelines following ankle surgery.
Dundee United manager Micky Mellon will assess some bumps and bruises ahead of the trip to Glasgow.
Mellon hopes to have the same squad available again.
Long-term absentee Logan Chalmers (ankle) misses out.