McCulloch should miss Old Firm clash, says Ledley

Celtic star Joe Ledley last night insisted Lee McCulloch was guilty of using a blatant elbow on St Mirren’s Graham Carey and should have been out of tonight’s crucial Old Firm match.

But the Welshman admitted he understood why Rangers had appealed against the red card McCulloch got in Paisley at the weekend.

Ally McCoist bought his team time by taking Rangers’ case to the SFA’s compliance officer Vincent Lunny, even if it could land McCulloch an even lengthier ban if he is found guilty.

But Ledley said: “You can understand why they’re going to appeal. You need your best players for the Old Firm game.

“You could see it was a blatant elbow but most teams would have done what Rangers are doing by launching an appeal. Everyone who watched the match could see it was an elbow and I knew straight away it was a red-card offence. And I thought the referee did well to see it.

“But this is football and what’s happened with the appeal will be sorted out eventually.”

Neil Lennon refused to get drawn into any pre-match controversy over McCulloch.

Even the Rangers star’s team-mate, Steven Naismith, said on TV McCulloch had to be dismissed.

But Lennon said: “Rangers won’t be the first club to use the appeals system and they won’t be the last.

“A lot of people will be unhappy over what they’ve done but it’s not for me to comment. Rangers are entitled to appeal and they have done.”

The last time the Old Firm met at Celtic Park there were red cards for three Rangers players and seven bookings.

But when asked about that night and the effect it might have on this evening’s game, Lennon would only say: “I’ve got no worries about my players’ discipline.”

He added: “You always get a physical approach from Rangers but they have a different manager now and he might have a different mindset.

“I can’t really comment on how they’re going to approach the game. I can only talk about what we’ll do.

“The onus is on us, as the home team, to take the game to Rangers whenever we can.”

Georgios Samaras and James Forrest are expected to shake off injury and illness to play for Celtic and central defender Kelvin Wilson is in contention for a start after returning from a lengthy lay-off against Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Lennon said: “Kelvin had a good 40 minutes in that game and he’s in contention for a place.

“Emilio Izaguirre’s fit and he’s under consideration as well. He’s fit but Emilio hasn’t had much football since he came back from his operation.”