Ronny Deila claims Rangers’ promotion to the Ladbrokes Premiership will have no big impact on his plans for Celtic next season.
The Hoops’ traditional rivals clinched the Championship and a return to the top flight after a four-year absence with a 1-0 win over Dumbarton at Ibrox on Tuesday night, with midfielder Andy Halliday immediately stating that he expects to be challenging the Parkhead side for the title.
The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final meeting between the two clubs at Hampden Park on Sunday week will allow early comparisons to be made but, meanwhile, Deila is focusing only on keeping Celtic at the top of the table.
Ahead of the trip to Motherwell on Saturday lunchtime, the Norwegian was asked in what way Rangers’ promotion might affect Celtic.
“It doesn’t affect us so much,” he said. “They have shown they are good enough to be in the top division and if it’s Hibs, Falkirk or Rangers we’ll be ready for it, that’s how it is.”
Asked if he expected Mark Warburton’s side to be title challengers, he replied: “We’ll see, it is too early to say something about other teams. I’ve got a lot of other things to think about. This is something you can keep on thinking about in the media and I will answer next season.”
Deila, whose side lead the Premiership by five points ahead of Aberdeen, hopes top scorer Leigh Griffiths gets back on the goal trail against the Steelmen.
The Hoops striker has notched a remarkable 35 goals this season but for the first time in the campaign he has gone four games without scoring, a run which includes Scotland’s friendly against Denmark at Hampden Park last month.
Deila, who revealed defender Erik Sviatchenko will miss the Motherwell game with a thigh injury but is hoping to have him for the semi-final, said: “He’s not tired that’s for sure. He’s ready. He gets good chances all the time so that’s the most important thing.
“If he had been going into games and not getting opportunities then I would be more concerned.
“He is so vital for us. We know how good a finisher he is and he will be back on track again.
“We have others who can score. A week ago we had a winger (Patrick Roberts) scoring two and the other one (Gary Mackay-Steven) scored one so we’re scoring a lot of goals this season.
“But I know Leigh will continue scoring goals if he is at it and he will create chances for others as well so I’m not concerned.
“It’s getting closer now but we are in a very good position. We’re five points ahead with six games left so there are a lot of opportunities here.”
On Sviatchenko, who came off during the goalless draw against Dundee at Dens Park on Tuesday night, Deila said: “He’s out for tomorrow but will have an opportunity for next weekend.
“It could be five to seven days or it could be a little bit more; it’s hard to say we’ll just have to see. He’s young and healing quick so hopefully he’ll be ready very quick.”
Roberts, with some confidence, has welcomed the comparisons with his hero Lionel Messi which came after he scored a double in his second start for Celtic in the 3-1 win against Hearts last week.
The 19-year-old winger, who signed an 18-month loan deal from Manchester City in January, believes he can reach the levels of the Barcelona superstar.
He said: “It (comparisons) doesn’t bother me at all. Obviously he is the greatest player I have ever seen.
“I idolise him, he is my favourite ever player.
“Everyone knows I enjoy watching him, I have watched him since growing up as a kid. You have to believe to achieve it so I always believe that one day hopefully I can.”
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