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Football | Europe

David Healy © Gallo Images

Rangers determined to derail Celtic party



David Healy says his Rangers teammates are determined to delay Celtic's Scottish Premier League title celebrations by winning Sunday's Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

The Hoops could clinch their first title in four years if they can defeat Rangers and third-placed Motherwell drop points to Kilmarnock.

It is a situation the Scottish football authorities will be keen to avoid after referee Hugh Dallas was left bleeding on the pitch in 1999 during a match where Dick Advocaat's Rangers won the league at Celtic Park.

At one stage in November the Gers held a 15-point lead over their Old Firm rivals.

But things have gone from bad to worse for the Ibrox club, who have lost their last three games at Ibrox since being docked 10 points for entering administration in February, and now trail Celtic by 21 points with eight games remaining.

The Ibrox club have never lost four games in a row at Ibrox but can take heart from Celtic's defeat to Kilmarnock, which ended their 26 game unbeaten run.

And Healy hopes the return of several key players to Ally McCoist's squad such as Carlos Bocanegra, Dorin Goian, Steven Whittaker and possibly Kyle Lafferty, can give Rangers a boost ahead of another massive derby clash.

"It's going to be a tough challenge and it's always a big game the Old Firm. I know everybody here is looking forward to it and Celtic will be looking to bounce back after their disappointment in the Cup final," said the Northern Ireland striker.

"So both sides will be looking to get a little bit of credit from the past week.

"We lost at Dundee United and Celtic lost in the Cup final so we'll both want to bounce back and there's everything that goes with the Old Firm in terms of the passion and Celtic might have the chance to win the league.

"But we know we beat them earlier in the season which was an incredible game and performance.

"The atmosphere that day was electric so I know there is going to be a huge, passionate support for both sides on Sunday and everybody is going to be looking forward to it.

"The manager will be getting us all prepared in terms of what way we are going to play, who is possibly going to play and the dangers we will face against Celtic.

"They have got a good squad and good players, players that can hurt you. But come Sunday hopefully we will have done enough during the week to know how we can go out and get the right result."

He added: "It's not been an easy time, especially for the supporters, because results have gone against us for whatever reason.

"It's time for the players on the pitch to go out and give the supporters, who have back us 100 per cent, something to cheer about."

Despite all hopes of retaining their title gone Rangers manager McCoist says pride is still at stake for his side.

"It's everything, really. It's bragging rights until you play each other again. It's putting one over on your biggest rivals. It's all that," McCoist said:

"These are the biggest days in the footballing calendar."

Meanwhile, Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama has revealed he hopes to use the game at Ibrox to make up for the pain of losing last week's League Cup final to Kilmarnock.

The defeat cost Neil Lennon's side a shot at clinching a domestic treble but the Kenyan international hopes to make amends to the fans by winning the league title at the home of their Glasgow rivals.

"I've learned a lot from the loss to Kilmarnock. It was a very big game and a chance for me to win something. It was very important to me before the game and I was very disappointed at fulltime when we lost," Wanyama said.

"I don't want to feel like this again so I hope we will move on from this.

"This meant a lot to me personally. Every player wants to win trophies and I was very excited about the thought of possibly doing that.

"We have to step up now and concentrate on our next game. Hopefully we will be back to our best and can continue our run in the league."

Celtic should have a full squad to pick from apart from long-term injuries Daniel Majstorovic and Beram Kayal.

Fixtures:

Saturday:

Aberdeen v Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Dunfermline Athletic v St Mirren
Hibernian v Dundee United
Kilmarnock v Motherwell
St Johnstone v Hearts

Sunday

Rangers v Celtic

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