Kilmarnock V Celtic at Rugby Park : Match Preview

By
17 November 2016
Kilmarnock V Celtic - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Gary Dicker determined to avenge Kilmarnock's painful defeat to Celtic

Kilmarnock midfielder Gary Dicker is relishing the chance to atone for a Parkhead thrashing by ending Celtic's unbeaten domestic run.

Killie lost 6-1 in the east end of Glasgow in September despite taking a 32nd-minute lead through Souleymane Coulibaly's spectacular strike.

The pain of that defeat has lingered with Dicker and he wants to make amends when the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders visit Rugby Park on Friday.

"It hurt," the Irishman said. "I was a bit embarrassed to be fair. I'm sure a lot of the lads were hurting. It's not nice conceding that many goals.

"People can say 'Oh, it's Celtic' but it doesn't matter who you are playing against, you have got to have a bit of pride and we let ourselves and the manager down that day, and the fans who came.

"We will be looking to put things right and put in a good performance on Friday."

Betfred Cup finalists Celtic are 10 points clear with a game in hand but Dicker is not overawed by the task.

"It's a great challenge," the former Carlisle midfielder said. "They are unbeaten in the league and they have obviously stepped up a couple of gears this season with the new manager and the players they have brought in.

"But it's a great game for us. We seem to do well in the night games here and hopefully we can be the first team to beat them.

"It's a great incentive for us because I don't think they can go unbeaten all season. If they do, fair play, but we will be looking to beat them on Friday."

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers admits their preparation for the game has been "far from ideal" but he has urged his 14 international players to quickly shift their focus back to club duties.

Rodgers has some difficult decisions to make, especially with Australia midfielder Tom Rogic and Honduras left-back Emilio Izaguirre returning to Lennoxtown for just one day's training before the trip.

"It's something that isn't ideal," Rodgers said. "We had 14 players away over this break, over 50 per cent of your squad are away.

"I would assume we have the most international players away yet we are the team who are playing on the Friday, which obviously means I will have to have a look at the team in terms of the set-up and the fitness of the players.

"So it's not ideal preparation. They never usually are on the back of an international break, but certainly if we had an extra day, that would have benefited us greatly."

Rodgers, however, stressed he was not complaining and pointed to the example of Moussa Dembele, who hit a double for France Under-21s in their 3-2 victory over England Under-21s.

"I'm always happy for the players to go away internationally and play," Rodgers said. "I always say to them to focus on doing their best for their country and it sometimes keeps them ticking over in terms of minutes. And Moussa for example has scored two goals and is coming back full of confidence.

"I watched the game and he was outstanding. He could arguably have had three or four.

"It's important for them to go away and represent their national team and do well and then focus on doing well on Celtic.

"For the players that had the opportunity to recover, it was very beneficial for them. But at the same time they have worked hard on aspects of their game that individually we feel they can improve on and they are now getting ready for the next batch of games."


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