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Football: Viduka will walk into Celtic team Says Alan McInally.

MARK VIDUKA'S rehabilitation advanced again yesterday when he scored for Celtic's Under-21 side against Dundee.

The Australian continues to make strides towards a full debut in the Hoops - and jump the queue into the first team ahead of Harald Brattbakk and teenage sensation Mark Burchill.

But former Celtic hero Alan McInally says the man formerly known as Marko will only get the chance to make his mark ahead of the boy called Mark - because of what the Parkhead club will eventually fork out for him.

The man known as 'Rambo' said: "The thing is that if you spend pounds 3 million on a player, you tend to want to play him - and that's why Viduka will get the nod over young Mark in my opinion.

"Burchill hasn't done anything wrong. When he's got his chance, he has scored goals and even coming off the bench he is still finding the net.

"Dr Jozef Venglos might be happy with that, knowing he has someone with that ability in reserve.

"But Venglos will have to justify having forked out big bucks for Viduka - and the only way to do that is to play him, ahead of the lad who costs nothing.

"And when you see what Brattbakk has done - or hasn't done - then Viduka has little, if anything, to beat to get that starting place ahead of the Norwegian.

"I watched Viduka against Dundee. While he looks a wee bit away from full match fitness, his touch and timing is pretty good, especially for a big guy.

"If he keeps scoring - that's two in two games he's now got for the second string - then it will be difficult for Jo Venglos to ignore him.

"But that might put the Celtic coach at odds with the Parkhead support," added the former Scotland striker, now a TV pundit.

"What Viduka is doing at the moment won't do him any harm. It's always good for a striker to be scoring goals, no matter what company it's in.

"But the real test is going to arrive when Viduka goes into Celtic's starting XI.

"Because of the way he's mucked everyone around - and for the majority that's what he did when he disappeared back to Australia - I think you'll find the tolerance level of the punters is very low.

"If Harald Brattbakk thinks he's been getting it hard, it might be nothing to what Viduka may face. His honeymoon period won't be very long at all - especially if the fans think Burchill can do a better job."

While Venglos has Henrik Larsson scoring for fun at this minute, Brattbakk continues to fire blanks.

Many Celtic fans want to see home-grown Bhoy Burchill get his chance.

But Rambo reckons the fact Burchill emerged from the Celtic youth system may count against him.

"Neither Burchill nor Viduka has really proved themselves over a distance.

"I'd have thought that with 11 games to go, then it would have been ideal to give Burchill a crack at the big time. But even with Brattbakk's confidence so low, Venglos is persisting with him. That's why I think Viduka will walk into the team: an international, a big signing and a big target man.

"Viduka has everything in his favour at the moment."

Former Aston Villa and Bayern Munich hitman McInally can sympathise with 18-year-old Burchill.

"I wasn't quite as young as Mark, 22 at the time I think, when I came into the Celtic side.

"But at that point I found myself behind Maurice Johnston and Brian McClair, who were easily the most potent force in Scottish football at that time.

"I had to wait my time but the thing that frustrated me - and it must be with Mark - is that when I did play, I scored.

"That couldn't be ignored, and eventually it was Davie Hay who decided to play all three of us together.

"I don't see that happening under Jozef Venglos, who seems very set in his ways.

"Three into two does go sometimes but very rarely.

"It worked for a time when I was at Celtic but it didn't last long when Rangers had wee Mo, Ally McCoist and Kevin Drinkell." Kev dropped out the picture quite quickly, just as wee Mo did when Mark Hateley arrived.

"Keeping everyone happy could be Jozef Venglos' hardest task soon."

Meanwhile Larsson and Paul Lambert are just two of the stars who have donated memorabilia to raise money for the Celtic Charity Fund Sporting Dinner, to be held at the new Kerrydale Street Suite inside Celtic Park on Sunday.

There are signed jerseys from Brazilian Rivaldo (Barcelona), and England stars David Beckham (Manchester United) and Michael Owen (Liverpool).

Larsson has signed a Celtic top he's worn this season while Lambert has handed over one of his Borussia Dortmund jerseys with the Champions' League logo from his successful campaign of 1997.

Steve Collins, the 'Celtic Warrior' and former WBO super-middleweight champion, has gifted a pair of signed boxing gloves and there is a golf visor signed by British Open champion Mark O'Meara.

All of the above will be auctioned on the evening, where former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton and impressionist Kevin Connolly are the guest speakers while there will be contributions on video from Jonathan Watson.

All proceeds from the dinner will go to Shelter (Scotland) for the homeless.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Weir, Stewart
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 24, 1999
Words:889
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