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Celtic striker McDonald desperate to prove fitness

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 13 Sep 2008


Celtic striker Scott McDonald is desperate to prove his fitness and play some part in Saturday's game against his former club Motherwell.

The Hoops travel to Fir Park wanting to put the memory of their Old Firm defeat behind them by claiming all three points in the Scottish Premier League clash.

Celtic have fallen behind Rangers in the race for the championship and manager Gordon Strachan knows he has the chance to temporarily put the pressure on their rivals if they claim a victory in their early kick-off game.

And McDonald, who has been forced to miss the last two games through a groin injury, knows he has to play a part in the match against Motherwell if he has a chance of starting in their Champions League opener against Aalborg on Wednesday.

“It's a massive few days for us. We have a tough game at Motherwell and then we face Aalborg on Wednesday. Both matches are huge,” said McDonald. “Things are going well. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go with the Australia squad this week but that's allowed for a better recovery time for me.

“I'll be doing my best to prove my fitness ahead of the Motherwell game and hopefully I can be involved at some point. If I make the Motherwell match, I'll be doing everything I can to play my way into the manager's plans for Aalborg.

“That's such an important match for us. The first UEFA Champions League game is always crucial and the fact we're at home makes it even bigger.”

Gordon Strachan will be without Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink for the match at Fir Park after his red card in his last outing against Rangers in the Old Firm derby.

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee has ordered his players to put their UEFA Cup game against Nancy next Thursday out of their minds.

John Sutton, who has scored in both his outings this season, is expected to lead the Motherwell attack.

Later on Saturday there is a top of the table clash at Ibrox as league leaders Rangers take on Kilmarnock. Defender David Weir should be fit after recovering from a groin injury but the fitness of Kevin Thomson and Kyle Lafferty remain in doubt.

Aberdeen could welcome back Zander Diamond and Scott Severin for the visit of Hamilton. However Jamie Smith has been ruled out for two weeks with a calf injury.

Derek Riordan aims to begin his second spell at Hibernian against Dundee United at Easter Road following his transfer from Celtic. Dundee United, looking for their first win of the season, have been boosted by the news winger Craig Conway has signed a two-year contract extension.

Hearts travel to Falkirk without full-back Robbie Neilson after he underwent an operation on a persistent ankle injury. Winless St Mirren face the long journey north to take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Fixtures (1500 GMT, unless otherwise stated)


Motherwell v Celtic (1230)

Aberdeen v Hamilton

Falkirk v Hearts

Hibernian v Dundee United

Inverness CT v St Mirren

Rangers v Kilmarnock


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