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Old Blue Sami returns a hero

Hughes interview keepers

Hughes interview keepers

Georgios Samaras is back in town tomorrow for the prestige friendly with Celtic - and the welcome he receives from Blues fans will be drowned out by the roar that greets the midweek hero from 6,000 Hoops supporters.

The 6ft 4in Greece striker conjured a 91st-minute winner at Dinamo Moscow on Wednesday night to blast the Bhoys into a mouth-watering Champions League qualifying play-off against Arsenal later this month.

Sami scored 12 goals in 65 games for City before his permanent move north last summer, but none was so special as the late strike that sensationally ended Celtic's six-year search for an away win in Europe.

"There is nothing you can do about history or the past, you just have to look forward," he shrugged, and that's a mantra that Mark Hughes and his new-look squad will appreciate on the eve of a momentous season.

Sami is not the only ex-Blue who wears Celtic's dayglo yellow and black "bumblebee" away kit - Chris Killen and Willo Flood are also on the books - and Hughes says: "They have their place in the club's development.

"Other players now carry the mantle including Craig Bellamy and Shay Given, who both have great feeling for Celtic and are looking forward to the game as we all are. It will be another good test for us.

"Celtic's confidence will be on a high because they had a fantatic win in midweek. Our game at Rangers was at a better level than we had before, and that is what you want. You need a gradual increase in the intensity."

Hughes and his squad are keen to start the real thing in a week's time - "the excitement is tangible, everyone is feeling the anticipation" - but the boss will not grumble if his summer transfer spending is done.

The Blues manager will be without Roque Santa Cruz and Vincent Kompany at the very least for the opening weeks of the Premier League campaign, and remains in the market for another quality centre-half.

He said: "If we see a deal that attracts us or makes sense, we may pursue it. But we've near enough hit every target we wanted so we can't be too disappointed if the business we've done is the only business we'll do."




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