Celtic’s tight timetable is cup worry says Chris Sutton

A late goal consigned Chris Sutton's Motherwell side to defeat in Germany. Picture Michael Gillen
A late goal consigned Chris Sutton's Motherwell side to defeat in Germany. Picture Michael Gillen
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Chris Sutton knows all about having to put a painful defeat at Bayern Munich’s ground to the back of his mind.

The former Celtic striker (pictured) managed to pick himself up 14 years ago, scoring in a 3-0 win over Motherwell three days after being beaten 2-1 in a Champions League clash in Germany. But then the agony he and his team-mates had to deal with was born of frustration at conceding a late goal condemning them to defeat.

The current Celtic side must bounce back quickly after suffering a potentially morale-sapping pounding in Munich. However, Sutton believes the team can overcome the one-sided 3-0 loss by reaching the final of the Betfred Cup against Hibs at Hampden tomorrow.

“I don’t think Brendan (Rodgers) is happy about the shortness of time between the games,” said BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton, who was speaking at the SPFL Betfred League Cup media day. “But Hibs would have had to play Sunday-Tuesday, which wouldn’t have been on. When you’re part of a successful team that’s what happens. It’s where you want to be. It’s pressure, pressure, pressure.”

Sutton is alert to the circumstances. Celtic only arrived back in Glasgow in the early hours of yesterday after such a bracing experience in the Allianz Arena. Hibs, meanwhile, have had since Monday to prepare and are buoyed by the recent 2-2 draw between the teams at Celtic Park.

“Celtic are coming off the back of a Wednesday night in Munich as well as the way Hibs played against Celtic at Celtic Park the other week,” said Sutton.

“If you’re a Hibs player they must feel they are in within a chance.

“But that’s pressure. Celtic seem to have a big enough squad to cope.”

Sutton does not believe Celtic will have it all their own way. Far from it. Neil Lennon, his old teammate, knows what it takes to get a result against Celtic. And a draw might be all Hibs need on an afternoon that could end up being decided via a penalty shootout.

Celtic are also likely to be missing centre-half Jozo Simunovic, whose absence through injury was felt in Munich two days ago.

“They (Hibs) will take so much confidence from that result at Celtic Park,” said Sutton. “There will be a belief in the Hibs camp they can beat Celtic. I’ve got no doubts about that. There were seven changes last weekend (against Dundee) and it was a scruffy win. Celtic are just about doing enough.

“But I don’t think you can continue making those numbers of changes and get results week in week out, however good domestically their run has been.

“In their treble last season the Betfred Cup was extremely important,” he added. “It’s the first trophy. But going into this weekend, it wouldn’t be a total shock for Hibs and Motherwell to win these games.

“I think Motherwell have a chance against Rangers and Hibs will fancy it against Celtic. I still think Celtic and Rangers will be in the final but it isn’t impossible (to see Hibs v Motherwell).”