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Ronny Deila's drooling over first taste of the Old Firm fixture


Pure passion: Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Pure passion: Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Pure passion: Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Ronny Deila watched his Celtic side open up a "very pleasing" three-point gap over Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 1-0 win over Ross County in Dingwall and then immediately turned his attention to his first game against Rangers.

The Hoops also have a game in hand over the Dons and are in fine fettle ahead of the Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday after securing their fourth successive win.

It was Kris Commons' deflected strike early in the second half which gave the visitors a narrow but deserved win over the league's bottom side and continued the debate about whether or not the 31-year-old midfielder should be offered a two-year extension to his current deal which ends in the summer, instead of the one year on the table.

The Parkhead boss, as he has done all along, insisted that he wants the player to sign a new contract, but what is more certain is that Celtic will face Rangers in an eagerly-anticipated showdown in less than a week's time.

The beleaguered Championship club are trying to make their way through the leagues after re-emerging in the bottom tier of Scottish football following their descent into administration and liquidation and will go into the match with caretaker boss Kenny McDowall having signalled his intention to leave against the backdrop of a boardroom battle and continuing cash concerns.

Deila is concentrating only on his own club but recognised the magnitude of the match.

"I really look forward to it and I think we are in good place now," said the Norwegian.

"We know it's a big game for many reasons. All around the match there's going to be atmosphere and history. It's going to be a different challenge.

"We are favourites. If we perform at our very best then it is very hard to beat us. It's up to us."

Life at the other end of the table is proving less exciting for struggling County, who have gone 10 games without a win.

Manager Jim McIntyre could take some solace from the fact that relegation rivals St Mirren and Motherwell also lost.

The Staggies remain four points behind second-bottom Buddies, albeit the Highland club have played two games less.

McIntyre tried to look for positives from the display against Celtic as he said: "We didn't do things right against St Mirren last weekend and we showed the right reaction.

"Our previous two home performances had been poor so it was important we gave our fans some encouragement.

"I'm glad we did that and our energy levels were good."

Belfast Telegraph