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Celtic v Inverness CT: Mulgrew ton-up for Mjallby

Charlie Mulgrew prepares for todays game with Inverness. Photograph: SNS

Charlie Mulgrew prepares for todays game with Inverness. Photograph: SNS

  • by RONNIE ESPLIN
 

CHARLIE Mulgrew hopes to give Celtic assistant manager Johan Mjallby a 100-point leaving gift at the end of the season.

The Swede, who became Neil Lennon’s number two in 2010, confirmed last week that he is to leave Parkhead when the current campaign ends to “seek some different opportunities”.

With four league games remaining, the first of which is against Inverness at Celtic Park today, the champions have 89 points and the Scotland international believes reaching the ton would be a fitting farewell. “That would be great, that would be the aim,” said Mulgrew. “We’ll just need to do our best to win all the games, but we will take each as it comes and hope to win that first. Inverness have been good this season. They are always tough and strong and I’m sure they will be ready for it on Sunday again.”

Mulgrew paid tribute to the influence Mjallby, a former Parkhead defender, has had on him and the rest of the Celtic players in the past four years.

“He had a big influence on me when I first played at centre-half after not having played a lot of football there in my career,” said the 28-year-old utility player. “He was such a great centre-half himself so he was a big help and passed on his advice.

“And he’s always involved. He’s always at the training pitch taking sessions and passing on his ideas, especially to the defenders.

“It’s disappointing [that he’s leaving] but I’m sure he thought long and hard about it and it’s the best decision for him.”

Celtic have drawn two of their last three games since clinching their third successive title against Partick Thistle at Firhill but Mulgrew, who returns after recovering from a hamstring injury, insists there will be no problems getting motivated for Sunday.

“Just playing for Celtic should be enough to give you the motivation,” said the former Wolves and Aberdeen player. “The fans demand it, the manager pushes us every day and that should be enough to keep us motivated and ready to go come Sunday.”

Inverness defender Josh Meekings will be wary as Celtic look to make amends for a rare blip last week when they lost three goals in a domestic game for the first time this season as Motherwell grabbed a last-gasp 3-3 draw at Fir Park.

And 21-year-old defender Meekings expects Neil Lennon’s men still to be smarting for the visit of the Highlanders.

He said: “Last week shows that it can happen [Celtic losing goals] but they will be looking to bounce back and put it right, so we will have to be on our guard and make sure we perform.

“We got a 2-2 draw at the beginning of the season [at (Celtic Park] so we will go down there as positive as we can. But you don’t get much tougher than going down to Parkhead. They have great players in their team and when you leave yourself open you can get punished, so we have to be careful.

“But it is a great opportunity for us to express ourselves and we will try to put on a performance and come away with something.”

KEY MEN The Premiership’s top scorer, Kris Commons, will be looking to improve on his 23 league goals against a stubborn ICT backline, while Billy Mckay, pictured, will have to put his recent dry spell behind him if the visitors are to nick something.

TEAM NEWS Celtic Adam Matthews and Charlie Mulgrew are back from injury. Inverness Graeme Shinnie returns from suspension after missing out on the 0-0 draw against Aberdeen last Friday.

FORM GUIDE The champions are unbeaten in seven though they are slowing down somewhat as the season draws to a close with two draws in their last three. Inverness have won only twice in 11 fixtures in all competitions.

LAST MEETING Leigh Griffiths scored a hat-trick as Celtic steamrolled over the visitors for a 5-0 victory at Parkhead. It would be the first of successive 5-0 defeats for Inverness, who lost at home to Dundee United the following weekend.

ODDS Celtic 2/7; draw 4/1; Inverness 8/1

PREDICTION 3-0 to Celtic

 

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