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I'll need to battle for my Celtic place; SAYS pounds 3.5m NEW BHOY ALAN STUBBS.

Record signing Alan Stubbs notched his first goal for Celtic - and then claimed he's facing a hell of a battle to hang on to his top team place.

The pounds 3.5 million defender turned in his best display since his move from Bolton as he helped Celts to a 3-0 win over SV Halsteren on Saturday.

But he admitted he's always looking over his shoulder because of the depth of quality players on the bench at Parkhead.

He said: "I'm impressed by the quality of players in the side but I'm also impressed by the guys on the sidelines.

"It's going to be just as hard to keep your place as it is to get into the team in the first place.

"We have people here who can come in and do a job week in week out and that's what you need to be successful.

"There are so many individuals here who can turn a game and there is so much character in this team that you've got to be confident.

"It's a big test for us this year but we're up to the challenge.

"We're starting to pass the ball around and our match fitness is coming on.

"It's never easy coming to a new club and playing a different style but I feel I'm settling in now.

"I'll happily play in any system as long as we don't concede goals. We've now played with both three and four at the back and we're familiar with them. We can adapt as we go along.

"It also felt really great to break my duck. The club want me to go up for most of our set pieces, so I'll be looking to score a few.

"But I'm paid to help provide clean sheets - and that's my priority."

Manager Tommy Burns said: "Alan is a genuine goal threat and it was smashing that he got on the score sheet.

"Coming from England, he's best suited to playing in a flat back four.

"He had his back to the wall with Bolton last year but he has a lot of experience and Tommy Boyd has helped by talking him through games.

"He can play the ball long or short and fits in well with our style."

Local hero van Pierre van Hooijdonk, who insisted that Celtic play his home town team, opened the scoring when he drilled home a Jorge Cadete cross and a looping header from Stubbs just six minutes later guaranteed the win.

Van Hooijdonk netted a second from the penalty spot after Morten Wieghorst had been brought down.

Jackie McNamara also hit a post when he should have scored and you got the impression Celtic could have doubled their total if they had needed.

Burns said: "Halsteren are the best organised team we've played so far and we were asked to a bit more defensively. But we got what we wanted.

"Big Pierre scored early on and it was nice for him to let his people see how successful he's become.

"And Brian O'Neil is pushing his claims more and more."

The big defender is recovered from the cruciate ligament injury which kept him out for almost a year and his form has been the highlight of the tour for Burns.

O'Neil said: "It was important to get a good pre-season under my belt.

"We've enjoyed being here. You don't get medals for winning friendlies but scoring so many goals hasn't done our confidence any harm.

"The good thing is that the manager has told me exactly what he wants me to do this season and I won't be filling any more than a couple of positions.

"There isn't one player here who will be an automatic choice. It will all come down to whose playing well."

Paolo di Canio and Paul McStay will both play against Berkum tonight and di Canio will also feature against Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon later in the week.

Meanwhile, Burns is already making plans for next week's UEFA Cup tie against Slovakian outfit Kosice.

He has a tape of them in action and will have them watched this weekend.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 29, 1996
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