Saturday 25 November 2017

McCourt makes case for the defence

Paddy McCourt insists the Celtic dressing room is firmly behind under-fire stopper Daniel Majstorovic and the rest of the Hoops defenders.

The Sweden international admitted culpability after Neil Lennon's side surrendered a two-goal lead against Inverness at Parkhead last Saturday, a week after they had lost a late equaliser at home to Dundee United.

Lennon described his side's defending against Caley as "slapstick" after he had watched them fall two points behind Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Rangers who also have a game in hand.

Not for the first time this season Celtic fans left the ground grumbling about their defence but McCourt backed his team-mates and Majstorovic in particular.

"I think Daniel has been great since he came in," the Northern Ireland international said.

"He did make a mistake and came out and admitted it but I don't think anyone is pointing the finger of blame at him.

"I haven't seen much criticism of him to be honest but I know that within our camp, we all think he is a great player.

"Fair enough he made a genuine error but whatever criticism he has had - and I haven't seen much - it might be a wee bit unfair because I think he has been great.

"It's a team game and everyone takes responsibility.

"There`s been games and there are going to be games where the strikers or the so-called attacking players won't be good and the defenders might win the game.

"I would say over the course of a season they might even themselves out.

"There is a long way to go and we are fully behind the defence," the former Derry City wide-man added.

"We all believe that we do have a good defence.

"It has been highlighted over the last couple of weeks that they have made a few mistakes and given a few goals away but there is still a long way to go.

"It is up to us to pick ourselves up and go on another run again."

McCourt claimed any criticism from manager Lennon was soon forgotten.

He said: "For someone who is fairly new to management he is fairly calm but if he has something to say he will say it, he is not afraid to upset people.

"I have been massively impressed since he took over in the way he handles situations.

"And if he does say something after the game, it's said and then forgotten about and training goes on as normal on the Monday."

Despite the snow and ice which has led to the cancellation of all Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixtures this weekend, Celtic were able to play a goalless bounce game against Falkirk at their Lennoxtown training ground today.

McCourt revealed there has been little disruption to training this week, in contrast to many other SPL sides.

"The training pitch has undersoil heating which allowed the game to go ahead so it's an advantage that the club is fortunate to have," the Irishman said.

"We have only had one day indoors, Monday, so it has not been too disruptive.

"It was pretty cold today but the game keeps the sharpness up.

"A few boys needed the game. Falkirk put out their first team so it was a wee bit better than playing a reserve game.

"I would have preferred to have the game against Aberdeen this weekend and try to banish the memory of those couple of late goals last week but it might work in our favour.

"Hopefully, we have forgotten the last couple of results and look forward to the next game, whenever it will be."

Press Association

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