Celtic's Mikael Lustig fears fatigue in Scottish Cup final

 

Defender Mikael Lustig believes fatigue is Celtic's biggest concern as they prepare to meet Hibernian in Sunday's Scottish Cup final.

It will be Celtic's 59th match after winning the title, making the last 16 of the Champions League and reaching the last four in the League Cup.

"Is there a sense of tiredness to the squad? Yeah, I think so," said Lustig.

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Some of the boys will only get three weeks off and then it will be 11 months of football again

Mikael Lustig

"Playing 50 games is a lot. It will be the same next year. Hopefully we are going to play in Europe again."

Ten members of Neil Lennon's squad have racked up 40 games or more this season, with goalkeeper Fraser Forster and striker Gary Hooper each making a half century of appearances.

Right-back Lustig - who faces two World Cup qualifiers next month before he will be able have a summer break - has turned out in 37 club matches.

"We know there is a lot of games involved and you have to try and be alert in your head," added the Swede.

"The manager has given a few of the boys time off and that was the right move. We need to have a rest mentally, time to not think about football.

"Some of the boys will only get three weeks off and then it will be 11 months of football again. That's a lot.

"I'm away with Sweden after the cup final. It's another three weeks before I can rest but hopefully I can handle that."

Celtic defender Adam Matthews

Matthews has not played since early March

Lustig could yet be given this weekend off, admitting he is uncertain of whether he or defensive rival Adam Matthews will be given the nod to start.

Matthews has not featured since injuring his hamstring in the second-leg defeat to Juventus in March as Celtic's European adventure ended at the first knockout hurdle.

But Lustig said: "I'm not guaranteed a start. We will see what happens with Adam first, to see if he is going to be fit or not. Maybe I'll play or not, maybe I'll be at right-back or centre-half, I don't know.

"I'm just hoping that I will play."

Should he be selected at Hampden, Lustig insists he will be desperate to walk off with his second winner's medal of the season.

But he rejects the notion that a failure to add the Scottish Cup to the Scottish Premier League title will mean Celtic's season has been a let-down.

"I want to go on my holidays as a winner," he said. "But I think it has been a great season anyway.

"One of our goals was doing well in Europe and we did that. The other was winning the league and we've done that too. Our season has been really great but if we manage to do the double, then it would be terrific."

Captain Scott Brown agrees with Lustig that Celtic's season has already been a success.

"It has been a great season so far for us, we just want to continue it," said the Scotland midfielder.

"There is always pressure on us, especially with us being a huge club and with the way we have been playing this season.

"Everybody wants to win everything in our squad. We are winners. The Scottish Cup is huge for us and to end the season by winning it would be great for us.