Celtic will have the chance to open up a six-point gap over Rangers at the top of the table when the Scottish Premier League resumes after a two-week break. With their bitter rivals not taking on Falkirk until Sunday, the Parkhead club could double their three-point lead at the summit by defeating Hamilton Academical tomorrow.
Gordon Strachan's men spurned the chance to move five points clear when they could only manage a 2-2 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice before the international break. But with just nine games remaining, defender Lee Naylor says Celtic typically save their best performances for the championship run-in, and wants to prove that by securing a fourth successive title.
"It's now a case of finishing the job off," he said. "Now we are coming to the end of the season it's important we keep our minds on what we have to do. The manager will select his team accordingly, but no matter who plays, we are winners. We don't like to lose, we put everything into our games and I have no doubt that we will be raring to go in the last nine games of the season."
Naylor is preparing himself for some stern tests during the title run-in, adding: "Everywhere you go in Scotland, you have to battle. Especially when you are a defender and you have to cope with everything that comes into the box and also handle people running at you outside the box. You have to win every game at this club."
The Bhoys have been lifted by the news that captain Stephen McManus will be fit to play against Hamilton despite picking up a knock while playing for Scotland. Meanwhile, striker Georgios Samaras, who has failed to find the net for his club in recent weeks, ended his scoring drought with Greece's winning goal against Israel on Wednesday night.
Falkirk sit bottom of the SPL prior to Rangers's visit, and will be desperate for points to avoid the drop. Walter Smith's side have been given a triple boost with the news that David Weir, Madjid Bougherra and Kirk Broadfoot will be available after missing their previous game against Hearts.
In Saturday's other games, Hearts take on Kilmarnock at Tynecastle hoping to keep their hold on the all-important third spot, which guarantees European football next term. Killie are just three points above the relegation zone and need the points to secure their SPL future.
Second-bottom Inverness Caledonian Thistle will leapfrog St Mirren if they beat them, while in-form Motherwell could claim a spot in the top six and move to within a point of Aberdeen if they defeat the Dons at Fir Park.
In tomorrow's early kick-off, Dundee United host Hibernian at Tannadice hoping to close the gap on third-placed Hearts.
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