CELTIC manager Ronny Deila looks set to drop John Guidetti after the on-loan striker again failed to score in yesterday’s 2-1 defeat by Dundee United.
Substitutes Stefan Scepovic and Leigh Griffiths did both find the net – the former’s effort was chalked off – but goals from Nadir Ciftci and Stuart Armstrong were enough to give the home team the three points.
“We have big competition in the team – we need all the strikers we have,” Deila said after a result which saw United go second in the table, four points behind the champions. “We play with the players we think are the best to win games.
“There is one thing you have to remember with John Guidetti: he hadn’t played football for two years before he came here. He started very well and now he has had a little dip. That is because he has to be physically stronger and play matches over time. All strikers go through periods like this. But again we have to focus on what is going to get him out of this situation. For me, it’s to be even more concentrated in training and in matches and everything you do. That will come.”
Asked if leaving the Swede out for a while would help, Deila added: “We will see. I don’t think he would think that was the right option. We have to pick the team we think is the best for every game.”
The manager also praised Griffiths, who has been a marginal figure for much of his time at Parkhead.
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“He has been working well to get into better shape and he is now. He scored two goals against Sunderland on Thursday and he’s scored today as well,” he added. “That’s the way to do it, show it by playing football that you can score goals.”
Any rise up the pecking order for Griffiths could scupper Hibernian’s renewed hopes of re-signing their former striker on loan when the transfer window opens at the turn of the year. Hibs manager Allan Stubbs needs to strengthen up front to compensate for the impending loss of Dominique Malonga on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
For Jackie McNamara, the priority is to hold on to his star players next month, with goalscorer Armstrong expected to be a prime target for other clubs, Celtic among them. “We would want the going rate,” the United manager said. “We don’t need to sell, we’re debt free, everything is good.
“If the right offer came in, I’m sure the chairman and the rest of the board would look at it. But the most important thing is to keep them here, let them progress and learn.
“Silly money changes everything. It was the same in the summer with Andrew Robertson. You don’t want him to go, don’t want to sell him – but there comes a point when you have to accept it. But every team in Scotland is a selling club. Celtic is a selling club.”
Armstrong, for whom this was a first win against Celtic, said he was flattered by the comparison with Thomas Muller, made in yesterday’s newspapers, but insisted his thoughts were purely on continuing to play well for his current club. “It’s a compliment more than anything. It gives you a bit of confidence and it’s nice to hear of interest there. It helps in your game for Dundee United.
“Everyone has dreams and ambitions, but I like to focus on where I am at the moment and doing my best. I didn’t see that Muller comparison! It’s nice to hear him paying those kind of compliments.
“It wasn’t in my head today. I always enjoy playing against Celtic. They’re a good team, they pass the ball really well and it’s good to compare yourself with the best quality in the country.”
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