O'NEILL TO LEAVE BHOYS OUT
By Phil Gordon
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Teenagers Jamie Smith and Stephen Crainey who both scored in the 5-2 win over Hearts, are likely to be back in the Under-21 side, while Colin Healy, another scorer, may have to settle for a place on the bench.
O'Neill is wrapping his star kids on cotton wool because he has seen promising young players burn out or get big heads.
"Tynecastle was a perfect place for us to look at some of the younger lads in the cauldron of a cup tie and I was delighted with them," said O'Neill, "but I don't want to get phenomenally carried away.
"Healy trains with the first team all the time but Smith and Crainey are still in the Under-21 squad and I would not mind them getting promoted for a week or two, but I would prefer them to remain there at the moment.
"I noticed at Leicester that sometimes after a quick promotion to the senior side the youngsters automatically assume they are senior players. These two lads realise they still got a lot of work to do."
O'Neill goes to Rugby park in the knowledge that it has not been a happy hunting ground for any of the predecessors in the Celtic hot seat.
He watched Kilmarnock beat Hibs in the CIS Cup on Tuesday and was impressed. "They are playing with quality and plenty of confidence in themselves. I think that it is good for the SPL that Hibs and Kilmarnock are both doing so well - at least Rangers have not won the league before Christmas."
Henrik Larsson will return to the Celtic side after his CIS Cup rest while Chris Sutton will have a fitness test to see if his ankle injury has disappeared.
Killie boss Bobby Williamson said: "The last time we played Celtic at Parkhead they won 2-1 but we nearly won the game - and Celtic know that.
"Celtic are not losing many matches but if we play to our capabilities, then we can make it a great contest."