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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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Jan 25, 2010

SPL Team of the Week - January 25

GOALKEEPER

MARIAN KELLO (Hearts): Rangers were missing their first-choice strike force, but even so, Kello had to be at his best to help restrict the Ibrox men to a 1-1 draw. One save, in particular, from Steven Davis, was absolutely outstanding and the Tynecastle keeper was a pillar of solidity and agility throughout the contest.

DEFENDERS

STEPHEN CRAIGAN (Motherwell): He fell out of favour during the brief reign of Jim Gannon, but Craigan has returned to the fold under Craig Brown's stewardship, and served up an excellent performance as the Fir Park club swatted aside St Mirren 2-0, while showing signs they are regaining their early-season form.

JOSH THOMPSON (Celtic): The 18-year-old has been thrust into the limelight as a consequence of his team's defensive frailties and mounting injury list. But if Thompson was feeling any nerves, prior to participating in the Bhoys' 4-1 victory over St Johnstone, he certainly didn't show it. Instead, he exhibited remarkable maturity for a teenager.

MARIUS ZALIUKAS (Hearts): The Lithuanian central defender doesn't command banner headlines, but week in, week out, he is doing a sterling job for his employers and was a rock for them again during the draw with Rangers, which was Zaliukas' 100th appearance for the Edinburgh club. He comfortably snuffed out the threat of Kyle Lafferty, who once again failed to live up to his £3.75 million price tag.

MIDFIELDERS

DEREK YOUNG (Aberdeen): He might not boast the consistency of some of the other selections in this Team of the Week, but Young's class was conspicuous when he provided the winning goal in his side's 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Pittodrie. The Dons man, who had previously gone 18 months without finding the net, was the stand-out performer in an otherwise drab affair.

JOHN FLECK (Rangers): Yes, we know he's playing out of position, but we need to be flexible to accommodate the cream of the SPL crop and Fleck, who is believed to be frustrated at his lack of first-team action, delivered a timely reminder of his myriad talents as Walter Smith's makeshift personnel shared the spoils with Hearts.

PADDY McCOURT (Celtic): He only arrived on the pitch at McDiarmid Park in the 56th minute, but the Irishman has an indefinable star quality and possesses the capacity to send a buzz through crowds. When McCourt made his entrance, the Celts were 1-0 down; by the end, they had plundered four goals and it was fitting that the substitute applied the coup de grace with a sublime demonstration of his skills.

DEREK RIORDAN (Hibs): He and his colleagues regained their knack for producing scintillating football at the expense of hapless Hamilton, who were routed 5-1, and Riordan, operating in tandem with Anthony Stokes, enjoyed a prolific afternoon. His first goal was a tap-in, his second a wonderful free kick, straight from the training field.

STRIKERS

MARC-ANTOINE FORTUNE (Celtic): The cynics claimed that he was a waste of money, but the best way for any striker to silence the doubters is to do his talking on the pitch and Fortune conjured up a quite superb goal to level matters against St Johnstone, before adding to his tally as the Celts shrugged off their initial torpor.

ANTHONY STOKES (Hibs): His work rate is always exemplary and Hibs will be in contention for third place in the SPL if his team mates follow Stokes' Stakhanovite example. Once more, he was in terrific form during the 5-1 demolition of Hamilton and, apart from notching a brace of goals, created a sack-load of chances for his side.

JON DALY (Dundee United): He displayed the full repertoire of his abilities whilst scoring a hat-trick which piled further misery on struggling Falkirk. Daly's first came from a subtle lob, his next via a shot and he grabbed the third with a header. It was altogether too potent a combination for the Bairns, who were stuffed 4-1 at home.

BAD WEEK

SCOTT BROWN (Celtic): There has been talk of libel suits and court cases following a tabloid report that Brown isn't wanted at Celtic, but the real mystery was why the player, who has missed most of the season through injury, should feel the need to get involved in media interviews when he would surely be better concentrating on football.

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