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Celtic: Can finish unbeaten with drive and focus, says Andy Walker

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 21st January 2014 view comments

Celtic travel to the capital this weekend to play Terry Butcher's Hibs in front of the Sky Sports live cameras and continue their pursuit of trying to go through an entire league campaign undefeated.

To date, Neil Lennon's men have played 21 league games and have dropped just six points. Even allowing for the lack of a credible title challenge, it's an impressive tally and to go through the entire season undefeated is a worthy goal for the Celtic players to achieve.

Samaras and Ledley: two high-profile players out of contract at end of season

Samaras and Ledley: two high-profile players out of contract at end of season

I wonder what sort of response Terry Butcher will get from his players this weekend after such a woeful display against St Mirren. I was at Easter Road last weekend to see Hibs outfought, outrun and outplayed by a St Mirren side who dominated the first half and were comfortably 3-0 up at the break.

Granted Hibs were better in the second half and rallied to score two goals but you don't keep the supporters onside with performances like that.

In my view, Hibs have the potential to be more than a match for Aberdeen and Dundee Utd and should always aim to be above Inverness Caley Thistle and Motherwell.

Too many players at Easter Road seem to be happy playing one good game only to follow it with two or three bad games and the supporters deserve more commitment than that.

On the plus side, there are a number of young players who have the potential to do really well. Jordan Foster was excellent as a full-back against Hearts in the New Year derby win but struggled at centre half against a St Mirren side who passed the ball quickly in the opening half hour to surge three goals ahead.

Jason Cummings has looked bright and alert since being introduced to first-team football but has still to find a more consistent end product to all his promising touches and build-up play.

I'm sure Terry Butcher will be pleased to have Alex Harris available for selection again after his early-season injury: with the right coaching and encouragement he can be an effective player.

Similarly, Sam Stanton and Danny Handling fall into the same bracket. Hibs have some decent young talent but need more reliable, experienced players around them to have a chance of flourishing.

Competed

Earlier this season, I was at the 1-1 draw between the sides and it was a physical contest. Hibs competed really well with Celtic and despite the claims of Neil Lennon, I didn't see anything that was overly aggressive.

That same level of determination is the least Hibs will need if they are to be the first team to take all three points from the champions.

This is a big target Celtic are aiming for but with the right focus and motivation, one that is not beyond them.

An undefeated season would be a marvellous achievement and success in the Scottish Cup is still very much on the cards. Like all managers, Neil Lennon has an interesting couple of weeks in front of him with regard to players either coming in to the club or one or two leaving.

Georgios Samaras and Joe Ledley are two high-profile players out of contract at the end of the season and could leave before the end of the month.

Neil Lennon always has to have one eye on keeping his squad as strong as possible for the early-season Champions League qualifiers so if either Ledley or Samaras chooses to go, players of some pedigree to replace them are essential.

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