John Hughes calls on plays to be ‘inspired’ by Celtic Park

John Hughes: Praise for Deila. Picture: SNS

John Hughes: Praise for Deila. Picture: SNS

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Inverness are fresh from victory over title challengers Aberdeen but manager John Hughes knows repeating the feat against Celtic will be a big ask.

Caley Thistle made it seven points from three games against the Dons this season when they beat them 3-1 on Monday, but their recent record at Parkhead is not so impressive – they have lost 21 goals in their last five visits.

Hughes said: “We’re confident. It was a good result for us the other night. But it’s Celtic at Celtic Park. It was Aberdeen at Inverness, a whole different ball game.

“Sometimes when you go there you need a little bit of luck, you need to have a real strength of character and a real belief in one another.

“You need to have a strong referee because it’s an intimidating arena. And that’s the same for the players, you cannot let that arena intimidate you, it has to inspire you, and hopefully that will be the case.”

Celtic manager Ronny Deila came under recent criticism following consecutive defeats by Ross County, in the League Cup semi-finals, and Aberdeen, which exacerbated concerns over his European record.

But Hughes believes the Norwegian deserves credit.

“A cup competition is a one-off,” he said. “If you lose a game you don’t get a chance to get it back. But they are still three points ahead of Aberdeen with a game in hand, still in the Scottish Cup. So you just hold fire on anything you are going to say. What I will say is, I think Ronny is doing a wonderful job.”

Hughes also believes Deila deserves some leeway following the summer departures of Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer. He added: “They are never going to be the defensive team they were last season because they are never going to replace the two guys they had in Van Dijk and Denayer. Never. They formed a partnership but individually they were quick and strong, they could pass it. They started every attack for them.

“You see the success Van Dijk is having at Southampton. No disrespect to what’s in there, they are wonderful centre-halfs and they look like they have unearthed another one, but they were going (to be) hard pushed to find a partnership and two players as good as that.”

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