Celtic wary of semi-final 'pain' after defeat to Rangers last season

Celtic are looking to reach their sixth League Cup final in seven years.

Ange Postecoglou says Celtic wary of semi-final ‘pain’ after defeat to Rangers last season SNS Group

Ange Postecoglou insists there is no chance of his players taking Kilmarnock lightly as they don’t want to experience the “pain” of another semi-final defeat.

Despite a dominant win against the Rugby Park side in league action last weekend, the Celtic manager knows the nature of Saturday’s game, and with a final on the line, there will be an added dimension to the tie.

The Hoops are looking to get to their sixth League Cup final in seven years in their bid to retain the trophy they won last season when the manager had only been in the door a matter of months.

But it was the semi-final of the Scottish Cup when they lost in extra-time to eventual winners Rangers that will bring extra motivation for the league leaders.

On last season’s triumph, when they came back from a goal down to beat Hibs 2-1, Postecoglou said: “With so many new players and myself just being in the building, winning a trophy so early helped, it gave people more belief in what we were doing.

“It helped the players, it helped me to gain the trust of everyone within the football club and our supporters.”

He doesn’t believe their recent experiences of playing at the national stadium will necessarily give them the edge against their less experienced opponents, but he does admit his side will be looking to the Rangers defeat for inspiration.

He said: “For guys like Hatate and O’Riley and others this will only be their first or second time at Hampden so I don’t think that is as relevant as understanding it is a cup semi-final.

“Whether you have experience or don’t, a cup semi-final will always have a bit of an edge and nervousness even for the most experienced of campaigners.

“They all know what’s at stake, you are a step away from a final, which is a big occasion, so maybe having no experience is better because you have less fear because you haven’t felt that pain.

“The guys who’ve felt the pain, and we certainly did in the semi-final Scottish Cup last season, they know what that feels like and they don’t want to feel that again.”

The Australian revealed Celtic’s injury situation is easing, with Ralston, Haksabanovic, McCarthy and Welsh all back in training, but they will still have an unchanged squad for Saturday.

He said: “The guys who are coming back from injury, except for Greg Taylor, all of them trained today which is good.

“They are all back training which is good but they have only had one session so no real change from last week.”

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