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Celtic's Boyata can't wait for cup final but he won't take eyes off ball


By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata will be ready for anything Motherwell bring to next month's Betfred Cup final.

The Hoops came through their semi-final with a 4-2 win over Hibernian at Hampden Park on Saturday, while much of the fall-out from Well's 2-0 win over Rangers the following day was on the physical nature of the tie.

In a bruising 90 minutes, Gers defender Fabio Cardoso broke his nose in a challenge with Fir Park striker Ryan Bowman, with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers claiming the officials in the match lacked "authority".

Ahead of the trip to Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership tonight, Boyata was relaxed about the showpiece on November 26.

The Belgium international said: "As a defender you can expect everything. You can play against a physical team, you can play against players who try to play, quick players.

"It is up to whatever you have in front of you. Of course, it is not going to be easy. It doesn't mean if you play against a physical team or a team who play football there is a team who is going to be easier.

"Yes, it's going to be physical, but that's how it is all the time. I think Motherwell did very well. I watched the game and they deserved that result.

"We have managed to get to the final but now we are onto the next game."

The treble winners are in the midst of a tough fixture period.

After a Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich last Wednesday in Munich was followed by the Cup semi-final, Celtic face the Dons who are behind them at the top of the table only on goal difference.

"It is definitely not easy," said Boyata. "We always work hard to stay at our best and play to win every game. Playing against Aberdeen is not easy. It is going to be a tough game.

"But I am sure we will be well prepared to challenge as much as we can."

Meanwhile, Kenny McLean will leave Aberdeen next summer, manager Derek McInnes has confirmed.

The former St Mirren midfielder is out of contract at the end of the campaign and will not sign a new deal.

The news will alert Rangers, who had a £300,000 bid for the 25-year-old rejected in June.

McInnes said: "Unfortunately, Kenny McLean has indicated he's going to leave at the end of the season. And I am totally fine with that. Disappointed naturally, but grateful that Kenny and his agent have been honest to say that's the intention.

"Part of the pitch to Kenny when he signed was to develop himself into a full Scotland international and be part of a successful team here, and I think he's done that.

"We want him to go out on a high with us, hopefully achieving everything we want and involved in Scotland squads coming up."

McInnes refused to rule out selling McLean in January to recoup the £300,000 fee they paid St Mirren in February 2015.

"We're not looking to do it," McInnes said. "Kenny's performances will dictate if someone wants to come in. If we get an offer we may or may not consider it. But Kenny's focus is on doing as well as he can for us."

Aberdeen vs Celtic

Scottish Premiership:

Pittodrie, Tonight, 7.45pm

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