Highland downpour could KO Celtic tie

CELTIC'S game at Inverness tomorrow is in doubt after heavy rain in the area left the pitch in a poor condition.

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The covers are on to protect against the expected freeze tonight. But the Hoops are monitoring the situation ahead of travelling north later today for the noon kick-off.

Neil Lennon is being kept fully updated, but is focusing on the side he plans to send out in the SPL top v second clash.

The Hoops boss plans to make changes to his team, with Tuesday's Champions League match against Juventus very much in mind.

Fraser Forster is due to return to action after recovering from his neck problem, and Lennon would like the big keeper to get a warm-up outing tomorrow ahead of the last-16 tie.

Georgios Samaras and Emilio Izaguirre are definitely out of tomorrow's game with hamstring and knee injuries respectively, while James Forest is a doubt. But Lennon is hopeful that at least two of them will be ready to turn out against Juve.

The manager gave a medical update today and explained: "We have no fresh injury worries from the internationals.

"James had two scans this week (on his tight hamstring). The first one was all clear, so we are just waiting on the results from the one yesterday.

"Whether he is in the squad this weekend, we don't know yet. We are hoping if we get the all-clear that he will be in the squad for Tuesday.

"With Sami and Emilio, we are going to leave it as late as possible. The signs are 50-50 at the minute.

"Emilio probably has a better chance than Sami, though they have worked very, very hard this week.

"We have been very aggressive with their rehabilitation, and the signs are promising, but there are no guarantees.

"They have no chance for tomorrow. But Fraser Forster is fit and he will start against Inverness."

Lennon is also doubtful if Efe Ambrose will be in a fit condition to play against Juve, even if the defender gets back from Sunday's African Cup of Nations final in South Africa in time.

He said: "We'll see how he is when he gets back. I don't know what his travel arrangements are just yet. We want him back, obviously, as soon as possible.

"He's had a great tournament, and, while I would love him here, I am delighted for him.

"He has been a huge part of that team. We will see what condition he is. He is a very fit lad and has been playing at a very high level for a month.

"But it might be a gamble putting him in as you don't know what condition he is going to be in after a very heavy flight in the space of a day."

Lennon knows he must make the most of his squad over the next four days and said: "It is a balancing act. I will make changes from the team that played last week.

"I have got Juventus in mind. It's the biggest game in some of the players' careers, and the biggest in my managerial career, so I don't want to take too many chances with the game tomorrow."


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