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Football | Europe

Neil Lennon © Action Images

Celtic warm up for Spartak with cup tie



Neil Lennon says his Celtic side won't be taking Arbroath lightly as they prepare to host the Scottish Second Division side in their Scottish Cup fourth round tie at Parkhead.

The Hoops warmed up for the match against the part-timers with a 4-0 thrashing of Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday that moved them a point clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

In contrast Arbroath, who needed a replay to defeat Highland League Inverurie Locos in the last round, dropped out of the play-off spots in the Second Division following a 2-1 defeat to East Fife.

With a massive Champions League game against Spartak Moscow next week that could seal Celtic's progression to the last 16 of Europe's elite competition, Lennon admitted he would be tempted to rest key players for the visit of Arbroath.

However, the Hoops boss said whoever played it would still be a strong Celtic side.

"Arbroath will create some kind of difficulty for us and we are not taking that game lightly," Lennon said.

"We will assess the squad and will look to give some players rest as they need it for next Wednesday but we will still put a strong team out there for the weekend."

The win against Hearts was only Celtic's fourth in their past ten matches in a season where they have struggled for consistency.

And Kris Commons hopes the Hoops, who lost to Inverness at Parkhead last weekend, can use the emphatic win as a springboard to a run of good results.

"It was a good victory for us and probably just what we needed after the weekend," the Scotland international said.

"Obviously our performances haven't been as consistent as we would have hoped for, especially at home. However, hopefully we can now begin to put that right and string a good run of results together. That is the target for us now.

"Now we have a Scottish Cup game with Arbroath to prepare for before we take on Spartak Moscow in the Champions League.

"So it would be nice if we can maintain this form moving forward."

Also on Saturday, Ross County welcome Inverness Caledonian Thistle to Victoria Park for the Highland derby while Aberdeen host Motherwell at Pittodrie in the other all SPL clash.

On Sunday, holders Hearts can forget about their financial worries for a while as they kick off the defence of their trophy with a trip to the home of their fiercest rivals Hibernian in a repeat of last year's Scottish Cup final.

Hearts crushed their Edinburgh rivals back in May when they thrashed the Easter Road side 5-1 to claim the trophy at Hampden.

But Hibs manager Pat Fenlon, whose sit second in the SPL, claims that defeat won't play on his mind.

"There's been a massive changeover, probably with both clubs. Our goal is to get through to the next round of the cup. We can't do anything about what's gone by over a period of time but we can affect what's coming ahead," Fenlon said.

"The important thing is to try to affect the game on Sunday in a positive manner."

Hibs last won a capital clash three and a half years ago but Fenlon says that run must come to an end sometime.

"They've been in the ascendancy for the last three or four seasons. There's reasons for that," the Irishman said.

"Every dog has their day, so things will change.

"You just have to take that at times and try to improve it. That's what we're trying to do this weekend, trying to improve our record against them."

Also on Sunday, fallen Glasgow giants Rangers welcome Third Division rivals Elgin City to Ibrox for their fourth round tie.

Fixtures:

Saturday

Ross County v Inverness CT
Aberdeen v Motherwell
Celtic v Arbroath
Cowdenbeath v St Johnstone
Dumbarton v Hamilton
Forfar v Ayr
Kilmarnock v Queen of the South
Livingston v Dundee
Partick Thistle v Dunfermline
Raith Rovers v Devornvale
St Mirren v Brechin
Stenhousemuir v Falkirk
Stranraer v Dundee United
Turriff United v Morton

Sunday

Rangers v Elgin City
Hibernian v Hearts

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