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Old Firm debuts for new signings

Celtic and Rangers go head-to-head for the first time this season at Parkhead on Sunday with both teams expected to hand derby debuts to some of their new summer signings.

The sides go into the game with Celtic topping the Scottish Premier League on goal difference from their fiercest rivals.

With a two-week international break following the match both teams will want a win to give their fans early season bragging rights.

The Old Firm have been busy in the transfer market lately with Rangers bringing in Pedro Mendes, Maurice Edu and Steven Davis for a new look midfield. Rivals Celtic have added former player Shaun Maloney and central defender Glenn Loovens to the squad which won the SPL last season.

Former Portsmouth player Pedro Mendes is likely to play a key part for Rangers on Sunday and the Portugese playmaker is targeting three points from his first Old Firm derby.

“People always tell you about games against Celtic but I think you probably need to play in one to really live it,” Mendes said.

“They are special fixtures for the supporters and I really hope I get the chance to take part and that my team-mates and I do as well as possible.

“I have enjoyed my time in Scotland so far and everything is going well, both on and off the pitch.

“The lads in the squad have been fantastic and my family are here so I am happy with life as I'm playing well too.”

Mendes added: “We will work hard and make sure we are ready for Celtic. I can only speak about how we've done since I joined Rangers but I think we have done well.

“Based on the last couple of performances, I think the team is improving and we just need to keep looking to do that. Now I'm looking for three points against Celtic.”

Celtic have some injury worries going into the game with strikers Scott McDonald and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink facing late fitness tests.

However, Greek forward Georgios Samaras is full of confidence following his double against Falkirk last weekend.

“It was a good performance against Falkirk and sets us up mentally for the Rangers game,” Samaras said. “I played three times against Rangers last season and the atmosphere at both Celtic Park and Ibrox is fantastic.

“For me it is one of the best derbies in the world and I'm just really glad I'm part of this. I'm very happy here and the team's confidence will be up ahead of the Rangers game.

“Whether I score against Falkirk or Rangers it's a goal and it helps my team. The most important thing is just to win the three points.”

Sun 31 August, 2008
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