Celtic prepared for Old Firm challenge
Kris Commons says there will be no hint of complacency from Celtic as they prepare for their Scottish Premier League clash with Old Firm rivals Rangers on Sunday.
The Glasgow giants clash for the second time in two weeks following their 2-2 draw in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup at Ibrox at the beginning of the month. Celtic are on a 16-match unbeaten run which stretches back to November and has helped them move five points clear of Rangers at the top of the SPL, although Walter Smith's men have two games in hand.
Commons, who signed from Derby in the January transfer window, says manager Neil Lennon will not allow his players' standards to drop. "We are on a great run of form and desperate to keep it going on Sunday," he said.
"The management would never let us become complacent and we all know what is at stake. When you are on a run, you want to keep it going and the longer the run goes on, the more hard work you have to put in."
Commons had an impressive but short-lived debut in the derby fixture two weeks ago when he scored the equaliser before being substituted as the Hoops made a tactical change after 35 minutes when keeper Fraser Forster was red-carded. And the Scotland international is hoping to last a bit longer in Sunday's match.
"I was sacrificed around the half hour mark but it certainly gave me a taste of things to come and I am thoroughly looking forward to every game we play against Rangers," Commons said. "It is a special occasion for me. For me to get my goal was the perfect start for me in my first Old Firm game. My first thoughts were fantastic and I am thoroughly looking forward to some more."
This will be the fourth Old Firm clash of a season where there will be a record seven matches between the Glasgow rivals as they battle it out for the three domestic prizes.
Rangers have won back-to-back championships and keeper Allan McGregor admits his side cannot afford defeat in Sunday's fixture if they are make it three-in-a-row. "It's really important for us that we go to Parkhead and at least avoid a defeat, if not get the win," McGregor said. "I would say it's probably more vital for Rangers to take three points from this one than it is Celtic.
"That's just my opinion. If we were to fall further behind with a couple of extra games to play as well, there would be so much focus on how much catching up we would have to do. With so many games coming up, it would be difficult for us and it would give Celtic an advantage if they got a result in this one."
Steven Naismith should be fit for the match after recovering from a hamstring injury while Nikica Jelavic will return up front after he was ineligible for Thursday's UEFA Europa League 1-1 home draw with Sporting Lisbon in their last 32 first leg clash.
Elsewhere, on Saturday Motherwell take on Hamilton in the Lanarkshire derby, Aberdeen face Kilmarnock at Pittodrie, Hearts welcome Dundee United to Tynecastle and Inverness Caledonian Thistle are looking for their first win of 2011 against St Johnstone.