scotland news

Celtic's Caldwell plays down ''tired'' suggestions

August 2, 2009

Gary Caldwell played down suggestions by Celtic manager Tony Mowbray that some of the Parkhead squad are already suffering from fatigue.

Celtic prepared for the second leg of their Champions League third qualifier against Dinamo Moscow on Wednesday by losing 2-1 at home to Sunderland in a friendly on Saturday.

Mowbray confounded those who believed that, with the crucial return game in Moscow four days away and his side 1-0 down from the first game, he would at least start the match against the Black Cats with his strongest XI.

Instead, he fielded a second-string side although first-team regulars such as Scott McDonald, Aiden McGeady, Shaun Maloney and Caldwell all made second-half appearances.

Goals either side of the break from Kieran Richardson and Kenwyne Jones gave the visitors a well-deserved lead until Hoops midfielder Marc Crosas pulled a goal back.

The former West Brom boss had sensed some fatigue among his players before the game, claiming that trips to Australia, Wales and England for pre-season games may have been a factor.

However, despite another long trip to Moscow looming on Monday, Caldwell said: ''As footballers you have to get on with it and deal with it.

''We have played a lot of games and done a lot of travelling and last Wednesday night (against Dinamo) was a tough game.

''The intensity of that game and having it so early makes it more difficult to recover from. But we have to be better than that and rise above the challenge of being tired.''

Celtic have never won a European tie after losing the first leg at home and they last tasted victory on foreign soil six years ago, defeating MTK Hungaria 4-0 in Budapest in a Champions League qualifier.

Caldwell, though, is confident of making history on Wednesday if the Parkhead side get their tactics right.

''I think we can score twice over there,'' the Scotland defender said. ''We could have scored three or four in the first game.

''But we have to get the balance right, we have to make sure we don't get caught on the break. There's no use scoring two if we lose two or three, because we will still be out.

''We have to be disciplined in our play and not throw too many players forward early on, and see if we can create chances with the forwards that we have got.

''But I'm sure we have enough in our team to hurt them and break them down and I'm pretty sure we can go through.''