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Celtic expect Dundee United to be fully focused in tonight's SPL tie despite manager announcement

Updated: Tuesday, 22 Jan 2013 13:19 | Comments

Dublin-born Jon Daly has been named by Johan Mjallby as one of Dundee United's main threats
Dublin-born Jon Daly has been named by Johan Mjallby as one of Dundee United's main threats

Celtic assistant manager Johan Mjallby expects a fully focused Dundee United side to turn up at Parkhead tonight despite the recent announcement of manager Peter Houston's departure.

Houston had insisted his decision not to renew his contract in the summer would not adversely affect his players and such confidence was vindicated on Saturday when United secured a well-deserved 3-2 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

United would move into the top six of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League if they win at Celtic Park and with a European place to aim for, the players are unlikely to slack off.

And Mjallby believes they will also need to make sure they are impressing Houston's successor.

"It doesn't really matter because the players are going to be professional anyway," the Swede said.

"They have to think about their places because even if they know that Peter is not going to be there next season, there might be someone that knows he is going to become the manager and is looking at the team all the time.

"They need to perform and do as well as possible. I don't expect anything other than a good performance from them."

Gary Mackay-Steven returned at Rugby Park following a two-month lay-off and showed he had lost none of his confidence with a superb piece of skill to balance the ball on his foot, flick it on to his head and knock it past a defender.

The trickery almost overshadowed Johnny Russell's hat-trick and Mjallby knows United's front players will provide a huge test for Celtic, who are without the suspended Kelvin Wilson and are likely to be missing goalkeeper Fraser Forster as he nurses a stiff neck.

"They are very, very good," Mjallby said. "They are a wee bit different, all of them, which is handy for Dundee United.

"Jon Daly is strong, a bit of an old-fashioned striker, very good in the air. Johnny is very nippy, with good movement, and can score goals. Gary Mackay-Steven is more of a winger and very good one v one.

"They have been a bit inconsistent this season. We hope that's going to continue because they put in a good performance at the weekend."

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