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Celtic boss fires out challenge to his treble chasers

By Ronnie Esplin

Ronnie Deila admits he will be disappointed if his Celtic side do not win an historic treble this season.

Victory over former Northern Ireland skipper Tommy Wright's St Johnstone at Parkhead tonight will take the Hoops nine points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership ahead of a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final and Scottish League Cup final against Dundee United later this month.

The Norwegian targeted the treble - a feat achieved only by Martin O'Neill (2001) and Jock Stein (1967, 1969) - when he took over from Ulsterman Neil Lennon last summer.

With his side now playing at the top of their game following a tricky start to his tenure - they passed up two chances to get out of the Champions League qualifiers - the Celtic manager has moved from hope to expectation.

"I think we are the best team," he said. "If we don't get to our full potential then I will be disappointed but the cup is the cup.

"You can get a red card, or be very unlucky but if the performance is bad and we lose because we are not good enough then I will be a little bit disappointed because I believe we can do it.

"I didn't say we were going to win the Europa League because that was not realistic but it is realistic to win the treble.

"I know that it is up to us. If we don't do it then we are not good enough but high goals gets high demands and good performances and this group can handle it."

The former Stromsgodset boss stressed, however, that he would not deem it a failure if he missed out on all three trophies.

He said: "You can't say that because then I would put too many demands on our players.

"This is a big, big chance, the players can make history.

"The players have done so many things, played in the Champions League and won the league but no players have won the treble.

"We have a real chance now so we just have to keep focused."

After an arduous week, Deila joked about a novel way to prepare for the visit of the Perth side.

The Scottish champions were knocked out of the Europa League by Inter Milan in the San Siro last Thursday night before arriving back in the early hours of Friday morning and the Hoops players had to dig deep into their energy reserves to overcome Aberdeen 4-0 on Sunday.

"What we have worked on is lying on the couch more so they have the rest," he said

"They were very tired after the (Aberdeen) game. The players felt heavy-legged," he added.

Scottish Premiership: Celtic v St Johnstone, Celtic Park, 7.45pm.

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