Giakoumakis to be rested in Greece friendly, Postecoglou prepares Celtic for Rangers in Glasgow Derby

Georgios Giakoumakis Ange Postecoglou

Crete-born Giorgos Giakoumakis is set to be rested for Greece’s next friendly against Montenegro on Tuesday night.

The Celtic FC striker played for over an hour against Romania in Gus Poyet’s first game in charge on Friday night and was unlucky to have a goal contentiously ruled offside.

According to Gazzetta, Giakoumakis is likely to be replaced by AZ Alkmaar forward Vangelis Pavlidis, spelling good news for Celtic FC manager Ange Postecoglou.

Georgios Giakoumakis Ange Postecoglou
Giorgos Giakoumakis and Ange Postecoglou celebrate at Tynecastle,

The Greek Australian-manager is currently preparing his Scottish Premiership side to extend their lead on the top of the table to 6 points as they face Glasgow rivals Rangers at Ibrox Stadium.

Although Giakoumakis began his Celtic career with much difficulty due to a host of injury set backs, he has returning after the Christmas break with all guns blazing, achieving consecutive home game hat-tricks against Dundee and Ross County.

Currently, the Greek striker has 12 goals in 22 games, despite a disrupted first campaign in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Postecoglou has revealed why he opted to chase Giakoumakis in the summer from relegated Dutch side VVV-Venlo.

“Sometimes in football these things are about timing and opportunity, Postecoglou said. "People forget that we had to be pretty creative with how we brought players in last summer."

“It wasn’t a matter of going out there and spending money. We knew we had to do a lot of recruitment in one window.

“We had to look far and wide to get value for us and also ensure the players would fit into our system.

“Giorgos had a great season in Holland last year and that brought him to the attention of a lot of clubs, not just us.

“From our perspective when I looked at him – the type of player he was and then spoke to him and realised the type of person he was too – I thought he’d be a good fit for us.

“And it has worked out well for him so far. He had a disrupted time in the first few years of his professional career.

“Sometimes when that happens it just means they blossom a bit later and hit their peak later on. Hopefully his best years are well ahead of him, not just in the next couple.

“Giako had a really tough start at Celtic, a tough first half of the season.

“He came in really late, missed pre-season and had a couple of injury setbacks. So he never really got going.

“But since the break he’s obviously got himself fit and ready.

“When he missed the penalty against Livingston it wasn’t a great way to start his Celtic career. But what was important was how he reacted to that because that pressure was never going to change.

"That’s the expectation when you are a striker at this club and you have to embrace that responsibility.

“Giako wanted that and that’s why he is getting the rewards now.”

As well as the Greek’s confidence on the pitch, Postecoglou has been equally as impressed with the forward’s humility off the field.

“Is he a confident type? Not many of these No.9s aren’t!

“I’ve met a few and they tend to have a bit about themselves. When you want to be a striker, you understand what comes along with it.

“You are not going to be anonymous if you’re scoring goals so I think he is confident.

“At the same time he is humble enough to know he still has a way to go. He still has to work hard to improve his football and improve himself.

“I think it’s more that he has a belief in himself rather than being over-confident in his own ability.

“If you’re going to play for this football club and do well then there is no doubt you’re going to get highlighted because you’re playing in front of 60,000 supporters, usually competing for honours, trophies and playing in European games.

“So you will get noticed.

“That’s part of the attraction in coming here. The pressures here mean you have to succeed.

"Giakoumakis is a great example of that.”

The Athens-born manager said: “When the players get selected for their national team, it’s a reflection of their form for the club.

“He has been doing well for us and going away with the Greek team will help give him further confidence and belief in the way he is going about things.

“Like all the international players it will also do him good to get away from that constant club environment."

Meanwhile, Sunday's clash at Ibrox, live on Sky Sports, will go a long way to deciding which Glasgow club will take the Scottish top-flight title come May, with Celtic three points ahead of reigning champions Rangers.

Celtic are unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership since October - a run which has spanned 25 matches - and while the Parkhead club won the last match via a comfortable 3-0 victory, it has been Rangers' only league loss since the first week of August.

"It's one of the biggest Old Firm games, certainly the biggest for a while," McCoist told Sky Sports News. "I don't think Rangers can afford to get beat.

"Postecoglou has done a great job at Celtic and they've put themselves in a very good position. There's three games coming up in the next month or so, if you include the Scottish Cup semi-final, so Celtic won't be a dull moment north of the border, particularly in the Glasgow area.

"But from Rangers' point of view, defeat is unthinkable as I think it would make the gap [to Celtic] far too big.

"But I don't see that, I think both teams have a little bit of form. Rangers in Europe have been excellent, domestically the form's been a little bit a bit up and down.

"They had a massive win at Dundee where they didn't play particularly well but they're hanging onto Celtic's coattails. And with this game coming up, I think we're going to see a different Rangers.

"It's a game they certainly cannot afford to lose and I think they'll certainly go about their business in a manner that they have to win the game."

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