Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Mjallby left shocked by Celtic surge

Johan Mjallby admits Celtic's race to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League has taken him by surprise.

The champions' dip in form in recent weeks has coincided with the resurgence of Celtic and their 1-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead on Wednesday night took them two points clear of their fierce Ibrox rivals.

Joe Ledley's second-half header completed a remarkable transformation at the top of the table as on November 5, the Hoops were trailing Rangers by 15 points, albeit Neil Lennon's side had two games in hand.

The Celtic assistant manager is glad to be leading from the front and looking back at nine successive SPL wins.

However, he wants to make sure the most recent positive taken from the Old Firm game is not negated in Fife against a Dunfermline side struggling at the bottom of the table.

“I would rather have the lead, obviously, because there is usually more pressure on you when you have to chase teams,” said the former Celtic defender.

“I think both teams can live with that anyway.

“It's only two points and there is a long way to go.

“But it has been a very big turnaround.

“Two months ago I would have probably not believed you if you told me we would be two points ahead at this time.

“We would rather be in this position but we still need to keep our feet on the ground.

“There is a long way to go and we need to keep on going and keep the momentum.”

Celtic travel to East End Park without Beram Kayal in their squad after the Israel midfielder was ruled out for at least a month with the ankle injury he sustained during the Old Firm win.

Manager Neil Lennon has options though with Scott Brown able to tuck in after starting at right midfield against Rangers, while Ledley netted his winner while playing at left-back.

Ki Sung-yueng could also come back into the team after starting on the bench against Rangers despite showing some good form in recent weeks.