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Postecoglou preparing Celtic for 'difficult' Ross County challenge

Celtic travel north to play Ross County on Saturday.

Postecoglou preparing Celtic for ‘difficult’ Ross County challenge SNS Group
'Resilience': Ralston's after last season's late winner in Dingwall.

Ange Postecoglou is preparing Celtic for a difficult challenge in the Highlands when they travel to play Ross County this weekend.

The Premiership champions had to wait until deep injury time for Anthony Ralston’s winning goal in the same fixture last December and the win was hailed as a pivotal moment in the title race.

With Rangers at the top of the league at the time it looked like they had gained further ground on their rival until the right back scored in the 97th minute.

The Australian hailed the importance of the victory and admitted he will be in for another tough game against Malky Mackay’s side on Saturday.

He said: “Every game and situation has its own challenge.

“I’d hate to dismiss this as a difficult fixture just because of the venue, I think it is a difficult fixture because of the opposition you face as well.

“Obviously Ross County are a good side, they make it hard for the opposition whoever goes there.

Postecoglou expects another tough test in Dingwall, despite the venue being in stark contrast to the sold-out Celtic Park which watched the Hoops get their title defence off to an encouraging start last week with a 2-0 flag-day win over Aberdeen.

But despite being played around 180 miles north of Celtic Park in Dingwall Postecoglou says it felt like a home game when Ralston’s winning goal went in last year.

He said: “I can tell you that when Anthony Ralston stuck one in in the last minute it felt like Celtic Park in those moments.

“The atmosphere is still pretty decent so, for us, we have just got to focus on playing our football, whatever challenge there is.

“What we showed last year, and so far this year, is that irrespective of what has been put before us, if we can play our football, stick to the task and be disciplined then we are hard to stop.”

He recognised the significance of Ralston’s goal and the win in Dingwall, “in terms of the resilience I kept talking about during the year”.

He said: “We were on fumes at the time, we had quite a few players out, we were playing games without a lot of depth in numbers, it was a difficult place to go to, Ross County were playing aggressive football and we were down to 10 men. That’s where you build resilience.

“There was probably half-a-dozen excuses we could have used that day to not win that game, we chose an alternative path and I thought that held us in good stead for the rest of the season.”

Postecoglou also paid tribute to former Celt John Hughes who recently died at the age of 79.

The Coatbridge-born attacker scored 189 goals for Celtic from 1959 to 1971 and won a European Cup winners’ medal in 1967, although he did not play in the final.

Hughes played in the 1970 European Cup final defeat by Feyenoord after scoring in the second leg of the last four against Leeds at Hampden Park.

The Hoops boss said: “An enormous legacy and one of the icons of this football club, one of the legends and what a player.

“You revisit this stuff and you look at the vision of him and for such a big guy – what a player.

“You talk about size and strength but also the ability to score goals and he loved this football club and is one of the greats.

“I often say you represent this football club and you want to achieve things and you want to be successful.

“Ultimately for all of us, we just want to be remembered for our time and he is right up there, one that will always be remembered.”