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Rest as good as a change as Celtic target 'crucial ties'

CELTIC want to sprint to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title so that the players can take a break before Champions League duties begin on July 17.

Joe Ledley, who captained Celtic to a 6-2 victory over Dundee United at Parkhead on Saturday, said: "We have looked at the possibility of some players finishing early if we can win the league quickly. We're only going to have a short break as it stands – three weeks I think – and it's important as professional footballers to have rest."

The victory took Celtic 18 points clear of Motherwell in what is becoming a procession to the Premier League title. However, Celtic will face a qualifying tie in the Champions League that comes so soon in the summer that it precedes the first round of the Open Championship at Muirfield.

"It's not ideal just to have three weeks and then get right back into it again with crucial qualifiers early in the next season," said Ledley. "We've played 45 games already so I think it would be a good idea to rest people.

"We proved it again on Saturday with a couple of players rested, the manager changed the team around and we were fresh and that is key in football now – recovery."

Ledley, who was on the bench against Juventus, admitted he was disappointed to miss out on "one of the biggest games in my career". But he brushed off any suggestions that the criticism by Kris Commons of Efe Ambrose for his performance in the Champions League tie had caused unrest in the dressing room.

"Efe has been a fantastic player for us since he signed and it was difficult for him against Juventus, but it just proves how strong a character he is to come out and play again and score in the win over Dundee United. For me he's been a steal since we signed him – and he just showed it again on Saturday. The Celtic fans showed their appreciation of him and they always get behind you no matter what," he said.

He added: "The Juventus game was just one of those days at the office. We're all behind him because we know he's a fantastic player, just as the fans know how valuable he is. Efe and Kris have been fine. That's just part and parcel of football, they just got on with it and turned in two fantastic performances.

"I don't think Kris meant to criticise him like that, it was just one of those things. Efe knew he could have played better but we put it behind us and proved it with the fantastic display we put in."

Analysis. Pages 2- 3

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