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Defender is up front about desire to help out

CELTIC have scored 16 goals in their last four domestic matches but continue to track the prolific Heerenveen forward Alfred Finnbogason, while supporters complain about the club's unwillingness to spend more on attacking reinforcements during the summer.

Brad McKay has offered his services as a striker. Picture: SNS
Brad McKay has offered his services as a striker. Picture: SNS

It would perhaps bring some perspective, then, for those in Glasgow's East End to consider that Hearts arrive at Parkhead today with literally no strikers following injuries to Ryan Stevenson and Gary Oliver.

Callum Paterson may be asked to play up front, David Smith could do a job, and Dale Carrick has a chance of playing but none would feel at their most comfortable in the No.9 role. Step forward the Tynecastle side's Scotland under-21 defender Brad McKay, who has offered his services as a makeshift striker.

He even has a glowing reference from the Hearts coach John Robertson, scorer of 271 goals during his playing days at the club.

"I have goals in me and I have asked to play up front before," said the 6ft tall 20-year-old. I played in attack a good few times for the under-20s and scored a hat-trick against Kilmarnock once. It is something I can do and is possibly an idea for the Celtic game. I did ask the manager at the start of the season - after Danny Wilson signed on - if I could play as a striker.

"There is an opportunity for me, as I do score a lot of goals at training. John Robertson and the other players call me the big centre-forward. If I was to liken myself to anybody it would be Peter Crouch. Robbo [Robertson] knows I have goals in me and that is a real compliment coming from a striker like him."

Unfortunately, perhaps, for McKay, he is far more likely to line up in the heart of defence of a team torn apart by Celtic in a 7-0 William Hill Scottish Cup defeat at Tynecastle three weeks ago. McKay had the relative good fortune not to be in the field for a humiliating first half a Tynecastle in which Neil Lennon's charges ran up a 5-0 lead, instead arriving as an interval substitute.

"They exploited the spaces between us and punished us, so we have a different game plan for this match," he said. "We will do what we were doing at the start of the season. We were a difficult team to break down and didn't lose many goals. We were fighting and we were hungry.

"We still are, but we just lost a bit of faith and belief. It's a major challenge for us personally because results haven't been great and the fans are rightly worried. But there is pride at stake and we need to get back to the way we were playing at the start of the season."

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