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Football: It's do or die bhoys; Boyd: Lose and forget the title.

SKIPPER Tom Boyd last night admitted that it's do-or-die for Celtic in tonight's big showdown against Rangers at Ibrox.

He made it clear that defeat would effectively signal the end of Celtic's faltering title defence.

Victory for Rangers would see them open up a virtually unassailable 13-point lead over their arch-rivals.

Boyd said: "With Rangers 10 points ahead the most important thing is that we do not lose.

"If they win it's a massive, massive gap. But we've got to be positive, as we were in the last Old Firm game."

Boyd is well aware that Rangers, whose pride was in tatters after the 5- 1 defeat at Parkhead in November, will be desperate for revenge.

But his only concern is three points for Celtic, a result that could breath new life into the club's championship defence.

He said: "In Old Firm games, the start is always very hectic. A lot is down to how you control yourself and don't let the occasion take over you.

"You've got to put in a controlled performance."

Boyd admitted Celtic have let things slip since their defeat of Rangers.

He said: "We thought we would build on it but we have let ourselves down. We've had chances to close the gap but did not and that's disappointing.

"We won last weekend at Dundee and must get a victory again this time.

"The players feel we are good enough to retain the title. Our form has been a bit up and down, especially away. But we have been performing quite well at home."

But Boyd added: "In any case the form book goes out of the window in Old Firm games.

"No-one would have predicted that 5-1 scoreline - although the players were confident about getting a victory.

"It was enjoyable for us, but a lot of the Rangers' players' pride was hurt.

"Their players took a lot of stick but they have bounced back from it.

"They've had a lot of good results and capitalised while we have slipped up.

"I suppose that's the biggest thing, Rangers' pride being dented in that game and they will want to put that right."

Boyd's played in more Old Firm games than any other current Celt - and

has never lost his passion for the clash.

He said: "They're magnificent games. The atmosphere is set by the rivalry of the fans. That's what makes it so special and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Celtic have doubts over contract rebel Simon Donnelly, who missed training yesterday because of a hip injury.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 2, 1999
Words:424
Previous Article:Football: Win down to Ally.
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