RONNY DEILA has warned his Celtic players that only the best will be good enough to overcome Inverness Caley Thistle in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
The Norwegian is well aware that Neil Lennon’s Hoops blew their hopes in both domestic competitions last season when they went out of the League Cup to Morton and the Scottish Cup to Aberdeen – both defeats at Parkhead.
And it was a shocker the previous term, too, when St Mirren won 3-2 in the League Cup semi-final to leave Lennon and his players red-faced in embarrassment at the national stadium.
Deila has no intention of staging a replay against John Hughes’s dangerous Highlanders who have made life tough for the Glasgow giants this season.
Celtic have played Caley Thistle three times in the SPFL and have won one, lost one and drawn one. Worryingly, they have scored only two goals in four-and-a-half hours’ worth of action against their opponents.
Deila admitted: “This is the biggest game of the season for us now.
“It is so important. We know how big a game it is and what it can lead to for us. We need to win.
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“We want to win the Treble. We have been saying that since we started playing in August. We are now getting to the end of the season and the chance is there for us to go and achieve that. But there is so much hard work for us still to do.
“Inverness are a very good team. They will make it difficult for us because they want the prize the same way that we do. We need to keep the play moving at a good tempo.
“Although we were strong defensively against Kilmarnock, the passing was not fast enough The movement was not enough.
“You saw in the second-half that the ball was moved around quicker that we got more players in behind them and the goals came – but so did the chances. We want to start the game on Sunday at that level.”
If this current Celtic team are to write their names into the record books and become only the fourth team in the 127-year history of the club to win a the domestic trio then this game against Inverness will be definitive in the journey.
Deila added: “The thing is that we love playing football. We like to play games. We love to win.
“The confidence in the team is good and there is a good spirit among the players. So, I can’t think that there would be anything negative for us from playing a game this week.
“Our game against Inverness is on Sunday which means that we have an extra day to recover – having four days instead of three is always much better and gives you the best chance of recovery.
“Whatever happens on Sunday will not have anything to do with us playing on Wednesday night.”