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Hoops ace Mackay-Steven is ready to be a hero this time

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 30/01/2016

Celtic's Gary Mackay-Steven
Celtic's Gary Mackay-Steven

Gary Mackay-Steven is looking to play a full and proper part in a Scottish League Cup final for Celtic after last year's Hampden win over former club Dundee United left him feeling "awkward" and "weird."

The 25-year-old winger signed, along with fellow midfielder Stuart Armstrong, from Tannadice on transfer deadline day a year ago, two days after helping United defeat Aberdeen in the semi-final.

Both players had to sit in the stands at the national stadium as they were cup-tied when the Hoops beat United 2-0 to take the trophy back to Parkhead.

Ahead of tomorrow's semi-final against Northern Ireland striker Liam Boyce's Ross County at Hampden, the Scotland star, who spent four years with United, recalled a "strange experience."

He said: "Having got to the final with Dundee United and then making the transfer to Celtic and then obviously the two clubs playing each other, it was a bit strange.

"I wasn't sure who I really wanted to win that game if I am being honest.

"Obviously I was a Celtic player and you want to celebrate with your new team, but having gone through the whole competition with Dundee United and winning a trophy for Dundee United is a big thing, so I was a little bit... although I was happy celebrating, I was in the dressing room and it was great but you are a little bit sad for your (former) team-mates.

"I would have rather not been there, probably. I was on the pitch but I wasn't really celebrating as such, I was happy for the boys but you are just standing there awkward and the cameras were quite often on you.

"It was just weird. There were mixed emotions certainly.

"I want to be properly involved. Hopefully now I can play my part and definitely hope we win at Celtic."

Mackay-Steven, back in boss Ronny Deila's plans after a spell on the fringes - he got his first two goals of the season in last week's 3-1 win over St Johnstone - is now well aware of the difference in expectations between United and Celtic.

He said: "The pressure on Celtic is on every game, not just the semi-final of a cup. You are expected to win every game so there is definitely added pressure but we don't think too much about that."

Erik Sviatchenko is in contention for the semi-final. The 24-year-old Denmark defender, recently signed from Midtjylland for a fee in the region of £1.5m, is added to Deila's squad.

Meanwhile Celtic have agreed a deal with Manchester City to secure Patrick Roberts on an 18-month loan deal.

Belfast Telegraph

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