Pressure all on Celtic, insists John Hughes

Celtic boss Neil Lennon says Celtic have to be prepared for a tough match against Inverness. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Celtic boss Neil Lennon says Celtic have to be prepared for a tough match against Inverness. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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JOHN HUGHES will urge his Inverness team to attack Celtic today as they bid to become the first side to defeat the champions in the league this season.

Hughes believes that his players will be unburdened by the occasion and can play with a certain freedom, with all indications pointing to another Celtic victory.

Picture:  Ian Rutherford

Picture: Ian Rutherford

The new Caley Thistle manager said: “The pressure is all on Celtic. I know that from playing there in my own career – it’s a must-win every week.

“A lot of people can’t handle that, but it’s demanded they have to win every week. So we have nothing to lose – it’s all on them.”

Despite criticism of Celtic this season on the Champions League front, Hughes is more than impressed by their current squad. He said: “They have recruited very well. They are a very good side when they’re at it and now they are out of the Champions League they’re really focused.

“They have talked about going the whole season unbeaten and that’s a reflection of their mindset – but we should be inspired by playing against them.

“They will win the league, without a doubt, but you have to feel you can take them on.

“We’re massive underdogs but I’ll be telling the players to go out and express themselves.

“For us, it’s a one-off game because they are way out in front as the best team in the league.

“Virgil Van Dijk at the back is some player – just different class. He strolls through games. He’s great on the ball and a real threat at set-pieces.”

Hughes modestly insists he played only “a small part” in Anthony Stokes’ emergence as a Champions League striker, despite taking him to prominence at Falkirk and also managing him at Hibernian.

Hughes said: “Anthony is back in the team and he’s a player I know well from bringing him up to Falkirk as a young kid.

“He was different class for me, both at Falkirk and at Hibs. He scored goals for me both times I’ve worked with him. He’s a real threat all over the place. It’s nice to know you played a wee part in his development, but he has moved on to a different level with Celtic now.

“His link-up play is excellent and he scores all sorts of goals, although he will maybe be a wee bit disappointed with his goals ratio at this moment in time.