Kris Commons doubts the wisdom of Dublin trip

CELTIC midfielder Kris Commons has bemoaned his club's involvement in a friendly tournament in Dublin next week and expressed his frustration at the early interruption to their bid to win the SPL trophy for the first time in four years.

After beginning their title campaign against Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday, Celtic will travel to Ireland the following week to take part in the Dublin Super Cup where they will play Inter Milan and a League of Ireland select side on 30 and 31 July respectively.

Celtic were the first club to activate the SPL's opt-out clause for the start of the new season which allows any of the 12 teams to miss one of the first three fixtures in order to play in lucrative friendly matches.

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As a result, Celtic's first scheduled home SPL game of the season against newly-promoted Dunfermline on 30 July has been postponed until later in the campaign. Rangers and Hibs have also postponed their scheduled SPL match on 6 August in order to stage home friendlies against Chelsea and Sunderland respectively.

Celtic, who face Cardiff City in Wales tonight, will play four friendly matches in between their first two SPL games. After facing Hibs on Sunday, Neil Lennon's men have a home match against Wolves next midweek followed by the Dublin Super Cup engagement and then a return to Wales to take on Swansea City on 3 August. They will then resume SPL action against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on 7 August.

Commons made it clear he would prefer greater continuity of competitive action as he and his team-mates attempt to build some early momentum in the battle to wrest the SPL title away from Rangers.

"It's not ideal for us to be going over to Dublin the week after the season starts," he said. "I'm now in the mindset that I'm just three or four days away from the start of the season and want to win every game.

"We want as big a lead as possible over the course of the season, we don't want to give other people the chance to catch us. We could possibly be playing catch-up straight away but it's about building a lead over a period of time.

"But things can't be changed. (Going to Dublin) won't change my mentality of what we want to do. Inter Milan are going to be a tough test for us there and might be an insight into what we need to do in Europe this season. Hopefully no matter what happens, we are going to be top of the league." Irrespective of the staccato start to their season, Commons is in bullish mood about what Celtic can achieve over the course of the campaign.

The Scotland international, a major success at the club following his January arrival from Derby County, insists the domestic treble and an extended Uefa Europa League run is the target after narrowly missing out on the biggest prize to Rangers last season. "I think expectation levels around the club will be a little higher than they have been over the last few years," said Commons. "We need to give the fans something to cheer about because there were a lot of disappointed faces last season.

"When I signed in January, it was made clear we were going for the treble. That thinking doesn't change on my part this season. We're looking to win everything. The only thing different would be trying to progress in Europe. That would be new territory for myself and the new players coming in as well.

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"I didn't really want last season to end, because the vibe I was getting was that something really big was going to happen for Celtic. We've got a good squad with a really good blend of experienced and younger players. It gave the players a massive boost during the summer that Neil Lennon signed a new contract. I don't think anyone would have blamed him if he'd walked away after everything that happened to him last season but the gaffer is a strong man who feels he has unfinished business in the SPL.

"We want things to be completely different this year and let the football do the talking, rather than stuff off the field making the headlines."