KILMARNOCK gaffer Steve Clarke expects Celtic to respond to their 2-0 Europa League loss to Valencia when they visit Rugby Park on Sunday.
Brendan Rodgers’ side struggled against the Spaniards last night and only a miracle in the Mestalla on Thursday will prevent them from hurtling out of the competition.
And Clarke, who saw his team beat the champions 2-1 earlier in the season with a stoppage-time goal from Stuart Findlay, hopes his players can exploit the Hoops following their Euro disappointment.
He said: “We’ve had one or two decent results at Celtic Park, last one excluded which wasn’t our finest day.
“We met a Celtic team that day on top form. We didn’t reach the standards we normally reach. Hopefully, we can put that right.
“Celtic will be smarting a little bit, they are not used to losing. So, to lose a home game in Europe at that stage in the competition will be disappointing for them. We expect a reaction, but we will be ready for it.”
KILLIE CRY…Brendan Rodgers roars on Celtic at Rugby Park.
Clarke, who witnessed his team being routed 5-1 in Glasgow in December, added: “It’s always a good fixture playing against one of the bigger teams in Scotland. Celtic, for me, are the benchmark, they are the standard.
“Everyone has to try to reach that standard, we respect them a lot, but we don’t fear them.
“We’ll try and make it as difficult as possible for them and if we can do that, we can get a positive result.”
Rodgers’ men also slipped up in the corresponding February fixture in Ayrshire last year.
The Hoops were forced to reorganise when both central defenders, Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer, limped off early in the first-half.
Ironically, the only goal of the contest was claimed by Youssouf Mulumbu who joined the Parkhead men as a free agent in the summer and is now back at Killie on a loan deal until the end of the term.
The DC Congo international midfielder will not be allowed to play against his parent club at the weekend.
KILLIE GLEE…matchwinner Stuart Findlay is congratulated by keeper Jamie McDonald after his goal against Celtic at Rugby Park in September.