Football: Celtic eager to put title to bed

Joe Ledley says Celtic are determined to wrap up the league title as quickly as possible as the Scottish Premier League resumes this weekend after the international break.

The midfielder returns to Celtic Park after starring for Wales in a World Cup qualifying double-header that saw them beat Scotland at Hampden before narrowly losing to Croatia in Cardiff on Tuesday.

The Hoops had been struggling for form before the international break and it took a stunning comeback from 3-1 down to win 4-3 against Aberdeen last time out to prevent Neil Lennon's side slumping to their third SPL defeat in succession.

The Glasgow giants face St Mirren away on Sunday knowing seven more points will bring the SPL trophy back to Parkhead.

And the Welsh international, who has played down rumours linking him with a return to Cardiff City in the summer, says he hopes the international break has helped the Celtic players regain their focus as they look to tie up their second title in a row.

"I've had two good games for Wales and now my aim is to return to Parkhead and hopefully take that form into Celtic and help wrap the league up," Ledley said.

"Two more wins could wrap it up and hopefully we can achieve that. We didn't defend well against Aberdeen but I don't think it's a question of motivation.

"We know we can play better at home and hopefully we can pick up.

"Maybe the international break can help in the sense that it helps clear your head because we haven't been playing as well as we should.

"When you're on a run you don't want it to stop but when you are not playing at your best it's nice to clear the air before getting back to playing again."

Celtic, who will be without injured captain Scott Brown, will form a guard of honour for new League Cup winners St Mirren before the teams meet in Paisley.

Hoops boss Lennon will hope to welcome back winger James Forrest for the match after he missed out for Scotland due to a back injury while Charlie Mulgrew will be assessed.

Meanwhile, Ross County, whose long unbeaten run came to an end with defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Highland derby last time out, will want to get back to winning ways as they host Kilmarnock at Victoria Park.

Craig Brown will still be at the helm for Aberdeen -- who announced Derek McInnes will take over as manager after the SPL split in early April -- as they host Hearts at Pittodrie.

Despite the fact the Jambos can't finish in the top six Gary Locke insists there is plenty for his side to play for until the end of the season.

"We have seven big league games left and it is up to me and the back-room staff, along with the players, to win as many of those as possible," he said.

"We realise it's been a disappointing season and where we are in the league is not where we want to be."

Elsewhere on Saturday, bottom of the table Dundee will hope to keep their slim hopes of SPL survival alive with a win against second-placed Motherwell.

Hibernian will aim to keep their place in the top six when they host third-placed Inverness at Easter Road.

On Monday, St Johnstone take on Dundee United, who need a win to boost their chances of sneaking into the top six, in a Tayside derby at McDiarmid Park.

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated)


Aberdeen v Hearts, Dundee v Motherwell, Hibernian v Inverness CT, Ross County v Kilmarnock


St Mirren v Celtic (1045 GMT)


St Johnstone v Dundee Utd (1800 GMT)