TONY Mowbray insists he has not been fretting about the threat red-hot Rangers will pose his Celtic side in Sunday's Old Firm derby.
The Parkhead side's arch-rivals are in devastating form going into the match at Parkhead, having won their last six Clydesdale Bank Premier League games and scoring 26 goals in the process. Wednesday night saw them deliver their biggest win of the season as they hammered Dundee United 7-1, despite playing almost half the match with ten men. That result put the Scottish champions seven points clear of Celtic, though Mowbray's men do have a game in hand after their midweek match against Kilmarnock was postponed due to the freezing weather.
Despite being under more pressure than at any point this term, Mowbray is determined to enjoy his first Celtic Park Old Firm derby as manager.
"I have confidence in this team. I don't look at this game and sit and think about what Rangers can do," said Mowbray, who succeeded Gordon Strachan in the summer. "We will set the team up as positively as we can and try to give Rangers as many problems as possible."
Celtic ground out a 2-0 win over Hamilton in their last SPL match last weekend but Mowbray is confident his players can hit top form when Rangers come calling.
He added: "The derbies are always exceptional occasions with great atmospheres. There is expectation and anticipation, but hopefully the team has a great confidence from the way we've been playing. We've been creating a lot of chances in recent weeks and we can also take positives from the first derby."
Celtic lost that game 2-1 in October at a time when victory would have put them seven points clear of a Rangers side who had been struggling for form going into the game.
Mowbray added: "For long spells, we were the team driving forward and we'll take belief and confidence from that."
Sunday's game, which will be televised live on Sky Sports, will be the first of 2010 for Celtic and Mowbray described his hopes for the new year. "We are all striving for the same goal," he said.
"We want to try and win some trophies and be successful in 2010, just like everybody does. We hope to find the consistency of performance that gives us the results to bring the SPL title back to Celtic Park. We also want to do well in the Scottish Cup and generate a feelgood factor around the club."
Celtic, meanwhile, have announced the appointment of David Pugh as their new club doctor. Pugh will be given overall responsibility for Celtic's medical and physiotherapy services, and will be working closely with Mowbray and his backroom team.
Pugh has been a senior partner in general practice for five years and has managed a portfolio of sport and exercise medicine positions. Mowbray said: "We are very pleased to have secured the appointment of David Pugh as our new club doctor.
"David is a highly respected medical professional with a first-class attitude and I know that his ability and experience will make him a major asset to Celtic Football Club."
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