Berwick Rangers v Celtic: Neil Lennon in no mood for cup upset repeat

Scottish Cup fourth roundAt Shielfield, tomorrow, kick-off 3.30pmLive on Sky Sports 4 and Radio Scotland;Highlights BBC 1, 10.55pm

• Freddie Ljungberg has impressed in training at Lennoxtown, and should make his Celtic debut tomorrow afternoon Pictures: SNS

IT IS five years to the day since a Celtic side including a high profile debutant suffered a shock Scottish Cup defeat away to lower division opponents.

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Roy Keane's introduction to Scottish football ended in ignominy on 8 January 2006 when Celtic slid to a 2-1 reversal at the hands of Clyde at Broadwood Stadium.

Neil Lennon was in the Celtic line-up that Sunday afternoon in Cumbernauld and has become more well versed than he would like in being on the wrong end of upset results in the tournament. Last season's semi-final defeat to Ross County at Hampden threatened to end Lennon's managerial career with the club before it had really begun.

So, as he prepares to hand Freddie Ljungberg his Celtic debut in tomorrow's Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park, Lennon is all too aware of the potential dangers facing his players if they treat the assignment lightly.

"There is always the potential it can happen in any cup tie," said Lennon. "In terms of Ross County last season, it is two different Celtic teams we are talking about between then and now. But we have to be careful. We'll give Berwick the respect they deserve.

"We've approached it this week as if it is a normal SPL game, in terms of training and preparation. If we get the attitude and application right, then we will prevail."

Ljungberg missed out on a debut in last Sunday's Old Firm game at Ibrox because of illness but the former Arsenal and Sweden midfielder is likely to feature against the other Rangers as Lennon looks to work on the 33-year-old's match sharpness as quickly as possible.

"Freddie is in contention," confirmed Lennon. "He has had a good week in training and he has recovered from the bug he had. Sunday might be a decent opportunity to give him some game time. We are still thinking about it. Freddie probably has not experienced anything like Shielfield before but I'm sure he has played cup-ties for Arsenal at lower league grounds. I don't think it will faze him too much. Guys like him have played all over the world.

"He may need some time to settle in. He may not be the player he was at Arsenal, but he still has a lot of quality.

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"He is very fit and he is very cute on the ball, a clever player. I am pleased with what I have seen.

"He is great around the place with the lads already, very mature as you would expect. I think there is a bit of hunger there to get back playing again. He wants to play at Berwick. It has been a while since he had a game and he's at a new club and wants to make an impact.

"He has enjoyed what he has seen so far. He can play either side of midfield or off the striker. It is not a case of suck it and see, I've a fair idea where I want him to play. He has a bit to do in terms of fitness to be where I want him to be."

Lennon will tinker with the starting line-up who were so effective in winning 2-0 at Ibrox last weekend, with Jos Hooiveld, Efrain Juarez and Marc Crosas being considered from the fringes of his squad.

"Ibrox took a lot out of the players mentally," he added, "so they had a couple of days off to rest and recover. It could be a bit of a culture shock for some of them going to Berwick, but I'm sure the majority have played at lower division grounds at various points in their careers. We might make a couple of changes, but overall I would think not too many."

Berwick Rangers manager Jimmy Crease regarded Celtic's widely unexpected Old Firm victory as the worst possible occurrence in relation to his hopes of plotting a shock result with his Third Division part-timers.

"I've watched Celtic three times since the draw was made," said Crease, "and they will have taken a real boost from beating Rangers. Their confidence would have taken a bit of a knock if they'd lost that one and they would have come to Shielfield under pressure. So it makes my job a wee bit harder.

"We are hoping Freddie Ljungberg plays, because my lads want to be up against the very best. But he's just one more headache for me, because there's a lot of quality in the Celtic squad."

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The 82,500 Berwick will receive from Sky Sports for live coverage of the tie assures their medium-term financial future and the players have negotiated their share of the pot.

"They are on a decent win bonus," said Crease. "We were tempted to offer them even more for a draw and a replay at Celtic Park. Seriously, I'm sure they are happy with it.

"If it wasn't for Sky covering the game, then the club wouldn't make too much from the tie, by the time we pay Celtic their half of the gate money and the SFA get their percentage. That's why it's essential for us the game goes ahead on Sunday.

"The money will keep us on an even keel for a year or so. Our chairman is a very shrewd businessman and I've already had discussions with him. If and when we get this money, it won't be a case of splashing it on new players, although I'd like to add one or two. It's for the future development of the club."

Not that the romance of the occasion is completely subdued by the more practical aspects for Crease as he seeks to emulate his legendary predecessor Jock Wallace by inspiring his players to Scottish Cup success against one of the Old Firm clubs.

"The team from 1967 which beat Rangers with Jock as player-manager are obviously still legends at the club," said Crease, "And I'll certainly be mentioning that in my pre-match team talk. I know Neil Lennon won't underestimate us. We're not a team of kickers, but we will be looking to break up Celtic's play and impose ourselves on them."