Crainey knock adds to Celtic's injury woes


Celtic manager Martin O'Neill is praying his injury problems do not descend into a crisis after Stephen Crainey was stretchered off against Dundee United.

The young defender was drafted into the first team in place of the suspended Joos Valgaeren but he lasted just 62 minutes before a challenge by Jim Hamilton left him in agony.

The Parkhead boss is already missing influential winger Didier Agathe with a serious knee injury and striker Chris Sutton is ruled out for up to six weeks with ankle ligament damage.

Crainey's injury is similar to the English striker's. "It's an ankle knock as well," said O'Neill, "and we're just hoping that it's not as serious as Chris Sutton's and that he won't be out for four to six weeks. We're being on our guard at the moment."

Celtic's impressive four-goal haul against United signalled an end to the club's recent sticky patch. John Hartson, Stilian Petrov, Alan Thompson and Henrik Larsson all netted.

The Parkhead club had their first taste of league defeat against Aberdeen a couple of weeks ago and only took three points against Livingston on St Stephen's Day with Larsson's last-gasp winner.

But O'Neill reckoned his side's ability to grind out results had given them the confidence to play as convincingly as they did at Tannadice. He added: "We played excellently and deserved to win the game - at times I would say the football was scintillating.

"Naturally you set out to win games as convincingly as we did today but sometimes when you win games as tightly as we did against Livingston - with 10 men and playing right to the death - it gives the players a great belief in themselves."

DUNDEE UTD: Gallacher, Cocozza, Lauchlan, McCracken, Partridge, Easton, Venetis (O'Brien 79), Hannah, Miller, Paterson (Hamilton 53), Thompson (Lilley 70). Subs not used: Combe, Wright. Booked: Partridge, Miller.

CELTIC: Douglas, Balde, Lennon (Petta 72), Mjallby, McNamara, Petrov, Lambert (Maloney 77), Thompson, Crainey (Tebily 62), Larsson, Hartson. Subs Not Used: Gould, Moravcik. Booked: Thompson. Goals: Hartson 4, Petrov 27, Thompson 47, Larsson 71.

Referee: J Rowbotham (Scotland).