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Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou expecting ‘tough challenge’ from Raith Rovers
Raith attracted unwanted worldwide publicity for the signing of David Goodwillie last week before announcing they would not play the striker.

CELTIC BOSS Ange Postecoglou expects Raith Rovers to brush off their recent troubles and give his side the toughest of challenges in the Scottish Cup.

Raith attracted unwanted worldwide publicity for the signing of David Goodwillie last week before announcing they would not play the striker, who was found by a judge in 2017 to have raped a woman.

Manager John McGlynn this week apologised for the “enormous” mistake but the impact on the club has been major with sponsors pulling out, some supporters and the women’s team turning their back on the club and a large number of employees and volunteers quitting.

However, Postecoglou insisted his team could not afford to assume that Rovers would be anything but fully focused.

“What we’re expecting is that they are going to come and give us a tough challenge,” said Postecoglou, whose side beat 10-man Raith 3-0 in the Premier Sports Cup.

“They will see it as a club as an opportunity to knock off one of the big clubs in the competition and we have got to be ready to face that.

“From our perspective, it’s preparing for an opponent in a football sense.

“All these other things that happen at all clubs for different reasons, some football-related some not football-related, if you fall into the trap that that’s going to affect on-field performance, then you are disrespecting what they can bring.

“We always prepare the same way and we are expecting Raith to come here and be at their best and give us a challenge that we have got to be at our best to overcome.”

Raith’s decision to ignore warnings over a backlash and sign former Scotland striker Goodwillie from Clyde came amid an eight-game run without a victory in the cinch Championship, which has seen them drop to fourth.

McGlynn has the task of ripping up the form book and helping Raith become the first Scottish team to beat Celtic since Livingston in September.

And the former Celtic scout is unsure just how much the recent furore has affected his players.

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“I’m not going to lie, you are having to work with that in the background, but I’m a football manager, and a professional, and I have to do the best for my players, because if I distract from that then they’ve got no chance,” the former Hearts manager said.

“And they have been very much caught up in this as well, as much as everyone else, and I apologise to everyone else who has been caught up in this.

“They are my concern and I have to be the person that’s motivating them, that’s giving them the tactics, that’s giving them the information, because we are going into a massive football game with the unenviable task of trying to beat Celtic at this moment in time, which is an awesome task because no-one can do it.

“So that’s a big task as it is. We are trying to do the best we possibly can. Even the best we’ve got might not necessarily win on Sunday because of the quality Celtic have got.

“But I would be telling you a lie if I didn’t say it has had some kind of distraction.

“It’s been distracting and I don’t know how much individually our players have been distracted. When we are here, we are fine, but I don’t know if on social media any of them have been caught up in anything.

“When we are here, we stick together. We have got to get through this as a group, collectively, the whole football club and hopefully we can repair the damage and come out the other end stronger.”

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