Sissoko doubtful for Celtic clash

PA Sport
Mohamadou Sissoko is unlikely to play for Kilmarnock against Celtic
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Mohamadou Sissoko is unlikely to play for Kilmarnock against Celtic

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels does not expect the Italian Football Federation to grant international clearance in time for Mahamadou Sissoko to face Celtic on Saturday.

The 24-year-old defender has spent the last two seasons on loan from Udinese and will return to Rugby Park following his release from the Italian club. However, Shiels claims previous problems with the Italian authorities means he is not confident that the former France Under-20 player will be available for the trip to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders.

"Most of the stuff has been done and agreed and we have him until the end of the season which will give us extra cover," he said. "But case history tells me that it won't be done for Saturday because the Italian Federation are not the quickest in dealing with international clearance."

He added: "It is just an assumption, I am looking at what happened the last time we signed him in 2010. We tried in the middle of July to get international clearance and we didn't have it for the first fixture on the 14th of August away to Rangers.

"It is three faxes. We get the SFA to fax the Italian FA who then fax the club, Udinese, to see if they are agreeable to release the player from the contract and they fax back to say if it is okay.

"It is about 10 minutes work. So if we can't get the clearance through we will have to go without him. There was a chance he would have played due to the injury situation and when you are playing Celtic, one area you want to be strong in is your defence."

The Northern Irishman was full of praise for Celtic's performance in their 2-1 Champions League defeat by Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night. The Scottish champions were heading for what would have been a remarkable draw until Barca defender Jordi Alba scored an injury-time winner.

Shiels believes his team could take advantage of Celtic's efforts in midweek.

"I thought Celtic were fantastic," he said. "They did the country proud and they did the SPL proud. They tested themselves against the best and came out with a very creditable scoreline. It put them in a position which is opposite to their domestic situation. They went as massive underdogs to get something from the game and normally it is a role reversal.

"Now they know how we feel. When we go there on Saturday, we are going to be similar to what they were when they went to Barcelona. We are poles apart (from Celtic) in infrastructure and financial terms but we have 11 players and they have 11 players. We will be looking for an edge and who knows, it's football."

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