Sunday 25 February 2018

Mowbray set to make last-minute Keane call

Ronnie Esplin

Robbie Keane will be given as much time as possible to prove his fitness ahead of the first Old Firm derby since his loan move to Celtic.

The Republic of Ireland striker hasn't trained all week and, although his manager Tony Mowbray refused to reveal the nature of the injury, the Hoops boss said he won't make a final call on Keane until just before the lunchtime kick-off at Ibrox tomorrow.

Keane has scored three goals in five appearances since making his temporary switch from Tottenham last month and Mowbray stressed that the forward will be given until the last possible moment to prove his fitness.

"I wouldn't want to say how big a blow it is or could be because we hope he will be fit, but we will wait and see," added Mowbray. "I will give the injured players as long as we can.

"They will have to train tomorrow and have no reaction when they wake up on Sunday morning, so we will wait and see."


Mowbray could certainly do with Keane firing on all cylinders with Celtic still seven points adrift of the summit, especially after a week which has been dominated by discussions about match officials.

An unknown Celtic source let it be known the club were frustrated with major decisions they believe have gone against them this season -- including in the last two matches against Rangers.

The leak led to a spat with the SFA whose president George Peat, in a scathing statement, questioned the courage of the Parkhead source and the timing of the story.

"I would never question the integrity of any referee or question any bias," the Celtic boss said. "The game is becoming faster, particularly in Scotland. It is hurly-burly with long balls and they have a very hard job to keep up with play.

"It is just a bit frustrating for us all and I'm sure it is for the officials who make the wrong calls.

"But nobody has ever questioned they make them for any other reason than they have probably not been up with play or not been at the right angle or not been in the right position.

"I don't look for the rub of the green, just the correct decisions, whichever way they fall," he continued.

The furore has served to intensify the scrutiny that will be on tomorrow's referee Dougie McDonald.

Mowbray, though, denied the timing of the leak was perhaps with a view to handing Celtic an advantage and indeed was quick to distance himself from the source of the story.

"You can look at all the conspiracy theories you want," he said. "I'm sure you know nothing has come from me because I don't talk to any of you. It's just another story and I'm sure (Rangers boss) Walter Smith isn't too bothered either."

Andreas Hinkel claims he and the rest of the Celtic team are relaxed about the match officials tomorrow.

The former Stuttgart defender said: "I don't think there are any concerns about the referees in Scotland. Everyone can make mistakes. The referees are only human and you can see it in Germany, or in every Champions League game or Europa League. They only give what they see."

Hoops defender Edson Braafheid did not train yesterday due to a calf injury and stopper Jos Hooiveld is still out with a hamstring injury. Aiden McGeady and Darren O'Dea return from suspension while Glenn Loovens has a chance after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Rangers v Celtic

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, 12.30

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport