EVEN his rival manager, Tommy McLean, of Dundee United, will make use of the fact that Wim Jansen's Celtic travel to Tannadice today inevitably in the shadow of their second confrontation with Liverpool in the UEFA Cup-tie at Anfield on Tuesday.

That is what Jansen thinks and, if nothing else, it shows that he is catching on to what the premier division is about. The truth is that, even the Celtic fans who make the trip to Dundee, will have other things on their mind, but it will be fatal (in football terms) for the players of Parkhead if they are lulled into the same exercise.

Jansen said: ''Dundee United know we face a hard game on Tuesday, so they will give everything they have tomorrow. That is why we need to concentrate completely on this game and forget about Tuesday. This is a very important game for us.''

United's McLean could answer that it is pretty important for his side as well as they find themselves in second bottom spot after a surprisingly ineffective start to the season. However, McLean, who is never reluctant to face up to crises if they arise, refuses to acknowledge that his team are in serious bother. Instead, he stresses how important it is for his players to come up with the right approach today.

''Celtic have been playing a new system and, after a few hiccups, they appear to have mastered it and are playing well.'' he said. ''Our confidence has suffered a bit because of some of our performances, but we must not go into this game showing any fear.

''If Celtic smell any sort of fear in our camp, they will certainly go for the jugular. When you analyse our results, the one which sticks out as being horrendous was the 2-1 defeat by Kilmarnock here two weeks ago.

''Even in that game, we showed we could play, but only after we had gone two goals behind. We have shown we are capable of doing better and I am disappointed that we haven't made a better start.

''The answer for us must come from producing good form for longer than we have done so far.''

Celtic will be without Stephane Mahe, who has a calf injury but looks likely to be all right for Anfield. Tosh McKinlay looks the obvious replacement and Jansen said that, for Tuesday, Enrico Annoni could be involved as one of 18 allowed in European games.

The disappointment, although not unexpected, is that Regi Blinker, who dislocated his shoulder against Liverpool but still hoped to be back for the return, has been ruled out. ''He could be a couple of weeks yet,'' said the manager.

Keeper Stewart Kerr, who has been absent this season, is fit and ready to be part of the squad for Liverpool, but Jansen will not finalise his pool until after today's meeting with United.

One of his key players, Henrik Larsson, will perhaps find time to have a couple of words with a fellow Swede, who will make his first starting appearance for the Tannadice team. Goran Marklund, the 21-year-old signed for #100,000 from Vasalund last month, is set for his first starting role for the Taysiders after two reserves outings and a couple of substitute appearances.

Marklund, whose move to United was delayed by National Service, knows the ideal way to make his mark in Scotland would be to score in his first full game, especially against Celtic. The striker, who will be watched by his father Claes and girlfriend Frida, said: ''I have been quite happy with what I have done so far with United but sorry that I haven't managed to score yet.

''I had to work hard on my fitness since I arrived through not having trained between games in Sweden because of the military service, but I feel I have caught up now and I am ready to play at this level. I know this will be the biggest match of my career and I know Celtic have spent a lot of money on players.

''I don't have a great knowledge of them, but I am aware that Larsson is a very good player. I did watch the Celtic-Liverpool game on television last week and I was impressed by their performance in the second-half.

''The manager has been stressing this week how important it is for us to get our first win in the league and I would love to help us achieve that by hitting the target in this game.''

Manager McLean, still struggling to overcome the effects of flu himself, will make late fitness checks on Maurice Malpas and Jamie Dolan before naming his side. He has still to decide who should partner Marklund up front, with Kjell Olofsson, Robbie Winters and Gary McSwegan all in contention.

Meanwhile, Celtic general manager Jock Brown confirmed yesterday that the club is considering all the implications of the FIFA decision to reject their appeal against the application of the Bosman ruling with regard to the transfer of John Collins to Monaco, who left Parkhead for nothing.

The club also expressed its annoyance at what they claimed was the late payment of the appeal fee by the SFA, who have denied that to be the case.

It seems unlikely, however, that Celtic will take their protest any further.

Bookies' view: Dundee United - 2-1; Celtic - evens; draw - 5-2.

qDundee United's youth set-up received a boost yesterday when seven of their young players were included in two international squads.

Steve McConalogue, Kevin McDonald and Ian Murray were named in the Scotland under-16s who fly out next week for two challenge matches against Germany. Craig Easton, Steve Fallon, Paul Gallacher and Jim Paterson were all included in the Scotland under-18s for the qualifying section of the UEFA cup in France in mid-October.

Under-16s: Steve McConalogue, Kevin McDonald and Ian Murray (all Dundee Utd), Brown, Gibson, McHale and Ross (all Rangers) Cocozza, Crainey and McCann (all Celtic) Doig and Williams (both Notts Forest), Goldie (Hearts), Gruber (Tirol), Hamilton and O'Brien (both St Mirren), Kerr (Schools), Milne (Aberdeen).

Under-18s: Craig Easton, Steve Fallon, Paul Gallacher and Jim Paterson (Dundee Utd), Brown (Blackburn), Carrigan (Clyde), Currie (Dunfermline), Hughes (Arsenal), McCaffrey (Hibs), Langfield (Dundee) McFarlane (Hamilton), McGarry (St Mirren), Milne and Severin (both Hearts), Notman (Man Utd), Ramsay (Motherwell), Stein (Raith Rovers).

qSCOTLAND'S under-17s were last night praised for reducing the cream of Holland's youth to kick and rush football.

They can win the Four Nations Tournament if they defeat Denmark today. Having already beaten Belgium, they achieved a stunning 2-1 victory against hosts Holland, which drew huge praise.

Manager Ross Mathie said: ''Holland actually played kick and rush for the final part of the game which tells you something.''