BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
MORTON loan star Luke Donnelly insists Celtic stars Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths are a constant inspiration thanks to the extra hours they put in on the training pitch.
Now he hopes to put the lessons learned at the feet of the Hoops hitmen to good use against Rangers.
Donnelly, 21, has joined the Cappielow side on a three-month loan from the Scottish champions and was immediately pitched into action in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Raith Rovers, turning in a combative display for Jim Duffy’s men.
He acknowledges that his time with the Ton will be a learning curve, but reckons training alongside £40 million-rated Dembele and Scotland star Griffiths has been the perfect apprenticeship.
Donnelly said: “I can learn from them all the time. You can see after training Dembele and Griffiths are out doing extra finishing practice, so you can just take note of what they’re doing and their determination to improve.
“It just goes to show that it is no fluke how well they’re doing.
“It is because they put in the work – they’re always out there doing extra drills, so you can’t ask for any more than that. They always want to be better.
“That’s why they’re reaping the reward, it’s no accident. Because they’re putting in the hard work, and that is an inspiration for any of the young lads at Celtic.”
Donnelly is desperate to keep his place for Sunday’s Scottish Cup showdown against the Gers – and knows there would be no better way to curry favour with his parent club than by dumping Mark Warburton’s men out on their own patch.
And, while the Hoops are a force to be reckoned with a youth level, Donnelly concedes that his derby day record leaves a little to be desired – something he would love to rectify this weekend.
Donnelly said: “Everyone was focused on the Raith Rovers game but now we can start looking ahead to Rangers. There’s no real pressure on us, we can go out there and try to enjoy ourselves.
“That’s why I want to come here, to play in games like this. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve got a decent record against Rangers for the under-20s, I’ve not been beaten away at Rangers. Celtic are quite strong at youth level, so hopefully that can continue. But, personally, I’ve not scored against them for a while, so there’s no better time to put that right than on Sunday!”
Donnelly spent the first half of the campaign on loan with League One outfit Alloa, scoring once in his nine outings, but will be greeted by familiar faces during his second temporary switch of the season.
Donnelly added: “Aidan and Jamie spoke really highly of Morton, and before that Denny [Johnstone] was here, and they all spoke about the manager and what he’s like with the players.
“They said the group of boys were excellent as well and I’ve already seen that so hopefully I can kick on from during my time here.”