ADAM Matthews is looking to silence his teasing team-mates in the Celtic dressing room as soon as possible by breaking his scoring duck at the Parkhead club.
The 20-year-old former Cardiff right-back has yet to find the net since signing for the club in the summer of 2011. He was mostly recently denied his first goal in green and white by a fine save from Raith Rovers keeper David McGurn during Celtic’s 4-1 Scottish Communities League Cup third-round win at Parkhead in midweek.
Ahead of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Motherwell at Fir Park today, where victory for Neil Lennon’s side could take them top of the table depending on Hibernian’s result at Aberdeen, Matthews said: “I am starting to think it is never going to come. But hopefully, if I keep hitting them as well as I did against Raith, one of them will go in and hopefully it will be quite soon because some of the boys are giving me a bit of hassle about it.
“This season I have had more opportunities to score which I am happy with. I am getting in the positions to have a chance so hopefully I can take one of them and then get a couple more. I can’t set a higher standard than one so that’s what I am looking for this season – and take it from there next season.”
Matthews is also looking to keep quiet the Scotland internationals at Celtic next month when Wales play against the Scots in their crucial World Cup qualifier in Cardiff.
The Welsh lost 2-0 at home to Belgium and 6-1 away to Serbia in their opening two qualifiers while Scotland drew against the Serbs and Macedonia at Hampden.
Winger James Forrest and skipper Scott Brown could both be playing against Matthews in a game where defeat for Scotland could effectively end their qualification hopes, which are already slim. The Celtic defender smiled when alerted to that prospect. “Obviously I want them [Scotland] to do well for Brownie and James but I am hoping Wales qualify before them. It is going to be an exciting game for both sets of fans and I am excited about it.
“I’m sure as it gets closer I will get a few comments from Brownie and James so there will be good banter in the dressing room. We are quietly confident we can give them a good game and hopefully get the win. We have a good team, we didn’t show it against Serbia, which was an unacceptable performance, but against Belgium with ten men we showed what we can do and were unlucky in the end.”
Matthews is enjoying life at Parkhead so much he pledged to “definitely” sign a new contract for Celtic if and when the offer is put on the table.
Lennon revealed yesterday he had begun talks with the Welshman, who originally signed a four-year deal, as well as Forrest, Victor Wanyama, Thomas Rogne, Charlie Mulgrew and Gary Hooper. Matthews said: “The club has been great to me and I really enjoy being here so if I am offered a new deal I will happily sign, definitely.”
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall, meanwhile, has set about trying to solve the defensive “naivety” that he feels was the root cause of their defeat to Rangers.
The SPL leaders saw their wait for a win over the Glasgow club extend beyond ten years after losing two sloppy goals in the League Cup at Ibrox. The defeat against a Rangers team which had lost to Queen of the South in the Ramsdens Cup and remain without an away win in the Irn-Bru Third Division led to questions about Motherwell’s record against the Old Firm as McCall previewed the visit of Celtic, who his team last beat in February 2011. McCall said: “Celtic we have pushed close on occasion and managed to beat them once, Rangers we have pushed close on occasions but not on other occasions. The other night I always said the first goal was going to be crucial and the atmosphere was like a big Old Firm game once they got the goal. We didn’t play particularly well but it was through defensive errors, and that came through naivety.”
Just as they had done during Sunday’s 3-3 draw at Aberdeen, Motherwell lost the opening goal to a free header following a short corner and McCall has since been focusing on defensive organisation. “What we have been falling down on, and it probably comes through the inexperience and naivety in defence, we are losing soft goals,” he said.
“That probably comes from a lack of organisation at times. We have to organise better and be aware but I do think that comes from the slight naivety because of the age of the defence.”