Ahead of Scotland hosting the Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park, much of the coverage has centred on both managers returning to a former stomping ground. The visitors' Martin O'Neill won three league titles as Celtic FC boss before handing over the reins to Gordon Strachan, his Scotland counterpart this evening.
"I had a great time at Celtic," said O'Neill, who also led the club to a UEFA Cup final. "I've not been back to take charge of a competitive game before but although I'm going back to a place I could call home for several years, and while I might turn right instead of left as we go into the dressing rooms – I don't think I've ever set foot in the away dressing room before – this is a game against Scotland, not against Celtic. So all the nuances end there."
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, himself a three-time championship winner at Celtic Park, oversaw a Bhoys team that included one of Martin O'Neill's key players, Aiden McGeady, and his assistant, Roy Keane. However, while the Celtic connections in the Republic of Ireland squad extend to a current star, Anthony Stokes, and former players Robbie Keane, Daryl Murphy and Shay Given, the Scotland coach has warned the visitors not to expect a home from home. "This is Scottish territory and you will know it is Scottish territory," Strachan said of Celtic Park. "There will be 55,000 Scotsmen in there and you will be in no doubt where you are."
Both managers have lost players to injury in the build-up to tonight's match, with midfielders James McArthur and James McCarthy - former team-mates at Hamilton Academical FC - ruled out for Strachan and O'Neill respectively. Scotland are also without right-backs Alan Hutton and Phil Bardsley, with Steven Whittaker poised to step into that particular breach.
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