WELL-TRAVELLED Motherwell winger Lionel Ainsworth admits he underestimated the size of Scottish football before moving to Lanarkshire – but the Englishman will not be overawed by a trip to Parkhead.
Motherwell follow Barcelona in making the trip to Glasgow, sitting just three points behind the champions after winning four of their last five Scottish Premiership games.
Ainsworth, who has already been at 13 clubs and signed on loan from Rotherham at the end of August, said: “It will be massive. When I came up here and got this opportunity, I didn’t realise how big it [Scottish football] was because, down south, they don’t talk about it.
“I have had friends and a lot of English players I know come up here and they have enjoyed it, and to experience it myself is brilliant.
“I have enjoyed every minute, the training, the staff, the players, the press, everybody has been good to me. I want to be able to repay that with my football.”
Ainsworth, who has scored once (a goal of the season contender in Motherwell 2-2 draw at Tannadice) and helped set up three goals in his four matches, is intent on making his mark against Neil Lennon’s men. The 26-year-old said: “We want to go and win the game. We don’t want to go to places and sit back. What’s the point?
“I have played at the Emirates against Arsenal when there was 30-40,000 and I played at St James’ Park against Newcastle when it was full. I have played against big crowds and I will just go and enjoy the moment.”
Manager Stuart McCall is set to be a bit more cautious, despite beating Celtic in their last two matches, both at Fir Park, with a bold attacking formation in the second game especially.
“I think it is a different story,” he said. “Even in European ties, I always think you have to try to take your chance at home. Going away from home, with the size of the park, you do think a bit differently. Not in a negative way.
“At home I think you should always try to win the game no matter who you’re playing. Not that we are not trying to win tomorrow, but you do look at it differently.”
McCall is desperate to take something from Celtic Park after several near misses, the latest of which saw Motherwell fall to a late Gary Hooper goal after Fraser Forster saved Tom Hateley’s penalty.
McCall, who will give James McFadden a late fitness test on a tight hamstring, said: “Since I have been at the club, this is the only ground we have not got anything from. We have had three 1-0 defeats there and pushed them close.
“We have managed to beat them at home three times but it’s a tough place to go.
“But we have to go there with no fear. We are on a decent little run ourselves, the lads are playing with confidence and it’s a great place to go and play football.”