Tony Watt puts Paisley first in his bid to earn trip to Barcelona
Celtic striker Tony Watt hopes by focusing on the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with St Mirren he will earn a place for next week’s Champions League trip to Barcelona.
Paisley’s St Mirren Park and the Nou Camp are poles apart, but Watt is keen to be involved in both matches and insisted the Hoops cannot be distracted by the prospect of facing the Catalan giants.
“We’ll be prepared for Barcelona as much as we can, but the main focus is St Mirren,” the 18-year-old said. “The Barcelona game is not in view just now.
“You need to do well in the league to be in the Champions League. We need to beat them and then focus on Barca.
“There’s no point in losing games in the SPL and winning in the Champions League. You need to get a balance. Hopefully we can do well in both.”
Watt is beaming at the prospect of going to the Nou Camp, though. “If I’m travelling with the squad, I’m happy with that,” he said. “Even going over and watching a team like that will be unreal, different class.”
Celtic are two points behind Barcelona in Champions League Group G after beating Spartak Moscow in Russia last time out.
Watt knows the two matches against the Spaniards could go a long way to deciding if his side can progress from the group stages, and he added: “The next two games against Barca will be important. Hopefully we can take something out of that and the game after that [at Benfica] will be the big one.”
Watt returned from Spain on Tuesday night following a six-day training camp with Scotland Under-21s in Marbella. The striker, who scored in Monday’s 2-0 defeat of Canada, shared a room with St Mirren winger Kenny McLean.
The duo did discuss Saturday’s fixture, when they will turn from team-mates to adversaries. Watt said: “We were joking about it. On Saturday we’ll be back to business and hopefully he won’t be happy about it.”
Watt and McLean represent some of the talented young players in Scotland and hope for the future after another senior qualification campaign in an international tournament is set to end in failure.
Scotland are bottom of Group A with two points from four matches as their quest to reach a first finals since 1998 goes on.
Watt was four at the time of the France World Cup and does not recall the tournament. “I can remember the PlayStation game, but that’s about it,” he added. He is realistic about his Scotland ambitions after four goals in 11 appearances for Celtic, the majority coming off the substitutes’ bench. “Every boy’s dream is to play at the highest level you can,” he said. “It’s a bit early for that – in four or five years’ time hopefully. There’s a good crop of talent coming through.”
St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin, meanwhile, hopes victory for his side over Celtic on Saturday can spark a run of good form.
Prior to the international break, the Buddies lost 2-1 to St Johnstone as the Perth side claimed a fifth straight win in a sequence of results which began with a defeat of Celtic. A congested SPL table means three points for St Mirren could see them climb a number of positions from seventh place.
“Our aim at the start of the season was top half and I don’t think we’re going to change that,” Goodwin said. “Second place is definitely up for grabs.
“There’s not an awful lot between all the teams in the division. St Johnstone have proved that if you can put a run of good results together then you can really climb the league fast. Their run started when they beat Celtic about a month ago. Hopefully we can do the same. If we can get the first goal on Saturday that will make a big difference.”
St Mirren have lost their past six meetings with Celtic, conceding 14 without reply in the process. “We know we’re huge underdogs on Saturday, but we’re really looking forward to the game, working hard on the training ground and hopefully we can get a good result,” Goodwin added. “We’re not just turning up just to get brushed aside. We’re going to try to give a really good account of ourselves.”
Goodwin believes the likely absence of Celtic skipper Scott Brown could aid his side’s chances. “Scott Brown is struggling with his hip and we all know how important a player he is to Celtic. Hopefully with him missing that will play into our hands. But they have got such strength in depth.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North east