CELTIC DRAW NOT REDUCED - MATTHEWS

Adam Matthews believes Celtic would still attract quality players even without Old Firm games.

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Adam Matthews modelling Celtic's new

Adam Matthews modelling Celtic's new

Adam Matthews believes Celtic would still be able to attract quality players to Parkhead even without the carrot of Old Firm games.

With crisis-hit Rangers battling to avoid liquidation, Sunday's visit of the Ibrox men in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League could be the last such fixture for several years.

Following heavy sanctions imposed on Rangers by the Scottish Football Association this week, after being found guilty of five charges in relation to their finances and the appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman, manager Ally McCoist admitted he could now be in favour of dropping down to the Scottish League Third Division.

If that previously unthinkable scenario came to pass it would, for a few seasons at least, outside cup ties, bring an end to the famous Glasgow derby which dates back to 1888.

However, Matthews, who joined the SPL champions last summer from Cardiff, is confident that the Parkhead club would retain its pull.

"Celtic sells itself," said the Wales full-back, speaking at Celtic Park where he was modelling the new home kit which marks the club's 125th anniversary.

"The size of the club and its history makes players attracted to it.

"It is a great club to be at. It is a massive club with a huge fan base and if you want to win trophies this is the club to be at, that's why I came here and hopefully I can do that.

"So, even if Rangers aren't in the SPL, Celtic will still be able to sign quality players."

Matthews admits the game in Scotland would suffer a "massive blow" if Rangers departed the SPL but claims Celtic would simply have to look after themselves.

"Obviously Rangers are a great team and there is a great atmosphere when we play against them," said the 20-year-old.

"But if Rangers do have to go into the Third Division then we have to live with that and we have to keep doing our job."

Despite Rangers' well-publicised problems this season the Ibrox men have beaten Celtic twice in their three SPL meetings, a statistic which Matthews believes could be used as added motivation by the Hoops players.

"Maybe that is an extra incentive but we know every game against Rangers is a massive game," he said.

"The hype and the atmosphere in the ground is amazing, it is the best atmosphere I have played in.

"The two times we have played at Ibrox this season we haven't done ourselves justice.

"So we are looking to put that right and get a positive result.

"We want to win every game, especially against Rangers. We are looking to play as well as we can and hopefully get three points."

Having wrapped up the championship at Kilmarnock earlier in the month against a side who beat them in the final of the Scottish Communities League Cup final in March, Celtic's season effectively came to an end with their William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Hearts at Hampden a fortnight ago.

However, Matthews knows manager Neil Lennon will not let his players freewheel until the end of the season.

"The manager won't let complacency set in, we will focus on every game and we won't stop playing for the fans until the end of the season," he said.

"Obviously it (the Hearts defeat) was very disappointing but overall we have had a great season.

"We went on that great run (26 domestic games unbeaten) and I think we have been unlucky in the cups.

"But hopefully next season we can come back stronger and put in a good shift in all three competitions."Neil Lennon, who serves the second of a two-match touchline ban, revealed mixed news on the injury front.

"Beram (Kayal) has started back training and we are hoping that he may get some game-time between now and the end of the season," the Celtic manager told the club's official website.

"Mark Wilson is back fit and we nearly have a clean bill of health.

"James Forrest is obviously out and we doubt very much whether we will see him again this season.

"Ki Sung-yueng) picked up the hamstring injury on Sunday and the nature of that injury means it could mean anywhere between three and six weeks. His season is basically over."

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