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Gordon Strachan: Celtic Park will become Scotland Park


Gordon Strachan is determined to turn Celtic Park blue against the Irish

Gordon Strachan is determined to turn Celtic Park blue against the Irish

Gordon Strachan is determined to turn Celtic Park blue against the Irish

Gordon Strachan reminded Republic of Ireland they will be entering Scotland "territory" in Friday night's 2016 European Championship qualifier at Celtic Park.

With Hampden Park still out of commission due to its use in this summer's Commonwealth Games, the Scots played their first Group D game against Georgia at Ibrox, with Parkhead hosting the Irish match and next Tuesday night's friendly with England.

Much has been made of Irish boss Martin O'Neill being a former Hoops manager with his assistant Roy Keane, skipper Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady, Shay Given, Daryl Murphy having played for the club and Anthony Stokes currently a striker with the Scottish champions.

There has also been much speculation as to how many travelling fans over and above the 3,200 or so official supporters will be among the crowd, which is edging towards its 60,000 capacity.

However, Strachan, a former Celtic manager himself, said: "I thought the Scottish fans turned Ibrox into the home of Scotland for the day and we will do that tomorrow.

"We will turn Celtic Park into the home of Scottish football and you will know fine well you are in Scotland tomorrow night.

"We are quite familiar with Celtic Park as well (as some of the Irish), most of our players have played there.

"But as I say, it is not going to be Celtic Park, tomorrow it is Scotland's park.

"There will be 50,000 plus Scotland fans in there. That is Scotland's territory and they are coming into Scotland's territory.

"Whatever I have heard there (at Celtic's Champions League nights) is phenomenal and I am looking for the same experience.

"I hope the players and everybody gets it tomorrow but in a different way because it is a different set of people.

"It will be different in many ways but the home players will use that atmosphere."

Speaking at the Scots' Mar Hall base on the outskirts of Glasgow, the Scotland boss was aware that a lot of attention in the game turned overnight towards the Republic's assistant manager Keane, a player he signed for Celtic.

A Garda spokesman confirmed officers received reports of an incident at a hotel in north Dublin on Wednesday, following which O'Neill has expressed his "full support" for the former Manchester United midfielder.

Asked in a roundabout way about the Keane incident, Strachan responded in a light-hearted fashion by referencing his own assistant, Mark McGhee.

"I have to deal with McGhee every day and when you get beat by him at Scrabble it is a nightmare," said the former Scotland midfielder, whose side have four points from three games, three behind the Republic.

"So I have my own problems as well. Two hours of scrabble last night and I got beat. I wasn't a happy man."

Strachan was less evasive when asked if he had paid much attention to the withdrawal from the Irish squad of midfield duo Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy through injury.

"No," he said. "They have a terrific squad. They have a good group of players so I haven't looked at it.

"If you look at their squad, you go, 'he's a good player, he's a good player' so we know there are going to be good players playing. The pitch will be full of good players

"And the last time we practised for three days to play against three centre-backs for Georgia and within a minute we realised we were playing against a back four.

"So you really can't plan too much in advance. You see what is on the pitch and deal with that."

Meanwhile, Scotland midfielder James McArthur has pulled out of the clash with the Republic of Ireland through injury.

The Scottish Football Association announced the news on its Twitter account but did not give details.

McArthur has come off the bench in two of Scotland's three European Championship qualifiers so far.

The Crystal Palace midfielder joins his former Hamilton and Wigan team-mate James McCarthy on the sidelines for the game after the Republic of Ireland player pulled out with a hamstring problem.

Online Editors

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