Scottish football: Hearts go to Parkhead on Sunday to face a Celtic side brimming with confidence after a week which saw them go top of the table and win away in the Champions League.
Mikel Lustig, the Hoops’ Swedish right-back who starred in the 3-2 victory over Spartak in Moscow, says Neil Lennon’s side will not lose focus after their excitement in Europe. “We celebrated on the flight back to Scotland. But now we have to make sure we have out feet back on the ground,” he said.
Celtic have been boosted by news that Charlie Mulgrew has extended his contract to 2016 and another player with a spring in his step ahead of the lunchtime kick-off is keeper Fraser Forster (pictured). The former Newcastle man has been named in the England squad for the first time for the two forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The Celtic number one signed a permanent deal in the summer after an extended loan spell and Lennon said of his inclusion: “He has worked incredibly hard and I’m sure there were some people in his ear in the summer saying he won’t progress if he goes to Scottish football so there is a lot of positives to come out of that (call-up).”
However, the manager has admitted that the Parkhead skipper Scott Brown remains a fitness concern for both club and country. The midfielder has an ongoing hip complaint and will only be used in one of Scotland’s matches against Wales and Belgium next week.
Fellow defender Adam Matthews, who twisted an ankle in training last week, is rated 50-50 but Tunisian striker Lassad Nouioui has recovered from a calf strain.
Hearts are also aiming to use their recent European experience as a springboard in Glasgow’s East End.
The Jambos gave Liverpool a fright in qualification for the Europa League last month, something their boss John McGlynn hopes to turn to his advantage:“We have gone to Liverpool and done exceptionally well so there is no reason why we can’t go to Celtic Park and do well. We don’t have loads of options to change things.”
The Tynecastle men are hoping to bounce back from last week’s 3-1 home defeat by Kilmarnock and are likely to have Andy Webster in their ranks after the defender missed three games with a back injury.
Elsewhere Motherwell are at home to Dundee United while Dundee — their city rivals and fellow strugglers — travel to Edinburgh to face Hibs who lost their six-match unbeaten run last weekend. Third-placed Kilmarnock take on Aberdeen at Rugby Park and it’s the battle of the Saints as St Johnstone play St Mirren in Perth.
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