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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 15, 2007

Celtic's Strachan bemoans Spartak's plastic

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has accused UEFA of double standards by making them play the first leg of their Champions League third-round qualifier against Spartak Moscow on a plastic pitch.

The Luzhniki stadium, which will host this season's Champions League final, has an artificial surface which did not impress the Celtic boss during a training session yesterday.

And he referred to Dunfermline's situation three seasons ago where, despite East End Park being chosen as a guinea pig by UEFA for their experiment with plastic pitches, the return leg of the Pars' UEFA Cup second-round qualifier against Icelandic club Hafnarfjordur was moved to St Johnstone's McDiarmid Park.

The Celtic boss said: 'Dunfermline had to change their game to St Johnstone so I find it very strange.

'They were never given a choice - but one club is very rich and the other isn't so rich.

'Spartak's pitch is not good for dribbling on, put it that way. It's a sticky surface and the ball doesn't move well.

'If you spin a ball at somebody it is exaggerated because there is so much rubber underneath.

'I wouldn't have liked playing on it because I like to move the ball and have a go at people and get the ball to feet.

'So we have to look at our tactics because dribbling is a problem.

'We had a full practice match on the pitch this morning and we normally don't do that. But it was useful because we found out what we could do and what we couldn't do.'

Celtic defender Mark Wilson is hoping to steer clear of injury after spending much of last season on the treatment table.

The former Dundee United defender broke his foot against Manchester United in the first Champions League group game last season which kept him out for three months.

Soon after returning, the 23-year-old then suffered a knee injury against Rangers at Ibrox in December which kept him out for two months.

Wilson said: 'I didn't know my foot was broken at Old Trafford or I would have come off earlier, but I only found out it was broken the next day.

'I also played through a knee injury at Ibrox. I should also have come off.

'Thomas Gravesen was saying, `you will need to come off', but I didn't want to in case it wasn't anything serious, but I have learned my lesson.

'These things happen, it was just unfortunate that the two incidents happened so close to each other. I'm injury-free now.'

Wilson joked that he still blames star midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura for his Old Trafford injury.

He said: 'Naka is a wonderful player and was our player of the year but he broke my foot!

'He gave me a slow ball when I was racing to clear and (Manchester United defender Mikael) Silvestre got there before me. He got the ball and then his studs caught me.

'Five minutes later, I felt a crack then it got sore - so I still blame Naka!

'I've only played one game at home in the Champions League and that was against AC Milan so I want to play a few more now.'