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Celtic FC coach Martin O'Neill has to weigh up which of his strikers to omit as he considers the best strategy to overturn Valencia CF's narrow lead in the UEFA Cup third round tonight. John Hartson's place is in jeopardy which would be hard on the Welsh international given that it was his two goals which sealed a 3-0 victory over Hibernian FC at the weekend.
Chris Sutton, the established partner for Henrik Larsson, was forced to miss the first leg when his baby son was rushed to hospital. He returned to the team at the weekend - but in the centre-half position as O'Neill gave another opportunity to Hartson and was rewarded with a convincing win that extended Celtic's lead over Rangers FC at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
The Celtic manager, who will recall former Toulouse FC defender Dianbobo Balde after he was rested on Saturday, knows he has to get this decision right with Valencia showing no generosity to opponents this season. If any team is equipped to defend a 1-0 lead right now it would seem to be the Spaniards who have conceded just eleven goals in 15 Primera División games.
The UEFA Champions League runners-up in both the last two seasons have been beaten only once in Spain but their record shows that they have drawn nine times and that, say their most critical fans, is indicative of the problems within the team.
The 1-1 draw at the weekend with RCD Mallorca was not well received by supporters but they hold the advantage going into the Glasgow tie and Celtic know how tough it will be to break them down. It will help Celtic that their opponents have been seriously weakened in midfield through injury.
Key man Kily González pulled a muscle in his left leg in training this week and is expected to be out for two weeks. It is a similar injury to the one sustained by Miguel Angulo who will miss four games while David Albeda is also missing.
Francisco Rufete, the natural choice to take Angulo's place, is another injury absentee so coach Rafael Benítez will once again ask left-sided midfield player Vicente Rodríguez to fill in on the right. There is some relief, therefore, in the fact that John Carew has recovered from flu and is likely to play.
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