Brian Rice rubbishes suggestions this is a good time for Hamilton to play Celtic

Hamilton Academical v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Fountain of Youth Stadium
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Brian Rice insists there is never a good time for Hamilton to take on the Old Firm powerhouses.

The Accies boss will take his basement boys to Celtic Park on Wednesday night to face a Hoops side under massive scrutiny following the collapse of their 10-in-a-row bid.

A defeat to the Premiership paupers would heap more pressure on to Neil Lennon’s shoulders.

But Rice does not buy into the theory that his team’s chances are inflated just because Celtic trail runaway leaders Rangers by 23 points.

And while his budget remains a tiny fraction of that available to the bosses in charge of the Glasgow giants, he insists Hamilton will always be ranked huge underdogs when coming up against the big two.

He said: “I’ve just been looking at the Celtic stats. They’ve lost two games this season in the league, both to Rangers.

“So nothing changes when you play the Old Firm. It’s so, so difficult for us all and that’s not going to be any different tomorrow night.

“We’re going to Parkhead and what makes people think this is any easier than it’s ever been?

“Celtic had 13 players out two weeks ago – now they’ve got 13 back in. If I took 13 players out my squad I wouldn’t have enough bodies to play the game.

“They are a completely different animal from us.

“Anything can happen as we proved at Ibrox last season. We have to go to Celtic Park with confidence and spirit and a gameplan. We’ve got to believe – if you don’t you shouldn’t be involved in football.

“But let’s be realistic here. How many times has Hamilton gone to big venues like Celtic Park and Ibrox over the years and got a result?

“Sometimes it’s just a one-off or it happens every now and then.

“Listen, we’re going to Parkhead to play the strongest Celtic team possible. We’re Hamilton Accies and no-body gives us a chance. If Celtic were top of the league, what would people be saying? Hamilton has absolutely no chance.

“Because Celtic aren’t top of the league, it’s a good time to face Celtic? Rubbish. Absolute rubbish.

“We’re going there as massive underdogs but we’ll go see where it takes us.”

Rice has struggled to add reinforcements to his team this month and suffered fresh frustration when former Accies striker George Oakley opted to chose Kilmarnock this week instead of returning to the Foys Stadium after a spell with Bulgarian outfit Pirin Blagoevgrad.

“I knew he was coming back from Bulgaria, so we got in contact with his agent and made him an offer,” said Rice. “But George has decided to sign for Kilmarnock and that’s the story of the transfer window for us.

“We’ve made offers for several players but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to get one in yet.

“But there’s still plenty time.”

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