Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is bracing himself for a St Johnstone struggle at Hampden Park on Saturday.
The two sides meet in the semi-final of the Premier Sports Cup for the chance to play Rangers or Hibernian, who clash at the national stadium on Sunday, in the December final.
Postecoglou expects Callum Davidson’s side to do everything in their power to hold on to the trophy – one of the two domestic cups they won last season – but hopes his troops resume their encouraging pre-international break form which brought one draw and seven wins in their last eight matches in all competitions.
The former Australia manager, who is “hugely” looking forward to his first trip to Hampden Park, said of the Perth side: “They had a fantastic season last year, they won two trophies and they showed that in the big games they are up to the task and they are not going to fear anyone.
“From our perspective, we are expecting a tough challenge but to be fair whoever you play in the semi-final of a tournament, you know it is not going to be an easy game.
“It is going to be a struggle, an arm-wrestle, it is going to be competitive, there is going to be some nervousness in both sides because you know the consequences of success and failure, everything is decided on the day.
“It is going to be a typical cup game where both sides will put their best foot forward and from our perspective it is about making sure we play our football as we have been, we have been in good form, home, away, in all competitions.”
Celtic captain Callum McGregor admits he returned from Scotland duty in an even more positive frame of mind.
The Hoops midfielder helped Steve Clarke’s side book a home game in the semi-final play-off with a thrillingly unexpected 2-0 group win over Denmark at Hampden on Monday night, which followed a 2-0 win in Moldova.
McGregor said: “Obviously a really positive week for the national team with two big results and we will await the draw next week.
“We’re full of positivity but the main thing is now we are back on club duty, the boys have had a couple of good weeks training and we came in and added to the positivity that has been around the place here as well.
“We know it is a big couple of months domestically as well so we need to be bang at it.”
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