GRAEME MURTY believes Jak Alnwick is ready to make his Old Firm debut at Parkhead on Sunday and that the 24-year-old goalkeeper will thrive in the red-hot derby atmosphere.
The manager confirmed at today’s pre-match press conference that number one Wes Foderingham had a scan on a shoulder and is likely to miss the visit to Glasgow’s east end this weekend, while Bruno Alves has also been ruled out as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Alnwick, of course. has played in the Tyne-Wear derby with Newcastle United and he also went up against some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs in Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United in 2014/15.
Murty has no doubt the big shotstopper will rise to the challenge this weekend if required, he said: “Wes is struggling, he had a scan today on his shoulder and Jak came in and did himself no harm last week.
“It’s a big step in his career progression to go and handle an Old Firm, particularly in the atmosphere we are going to experience, but I’m confident he can handle it.
He’s a confident character, he’s a very high quality goalkeeper and I’m confident that if he goes to play he’ll represent himself very well.
“Bruno is progressing. It has been well-publicised that he has been abroad to get some treatment and he is back and he’s got a film crew following him around at the moment.
“He’s on his recovery, he’s out on the grass now, he’s running and he’s escalated the tempo of his stuff, so he’s quite positive.
“It will be too soon for him this game but he’s hopeful of being back shortly.”
Alnwick made his sixth appearance of the season in the Light Blues’ morale-boosting 2-1 home victory over Hearts last weekend.
Goals from Jason Cummings and Daniel Candeias secured three valuable Premiership points and the manager admitted he has got options for the attacking positions on the pitch.
He added: “I’ve got some hungry players who are desperate to be involved on Sunday. Alfredo is one and Jason is another.
“Jason came in and, as Jason does, he is a pest to defenders and scores a goal against Hearts.
Everybody that played last week represented themselves in a difficult circumstance and in difficult conditions, in a kind of eerie stadium, very well.
“They showed psychological characteristics that we need for this football club, so none of the guys who played last week did themselves any harm at all.
“We played well and we caused Hearts more problems than I think many teams have done.
“We pulled them around and I saw a few comments that we weren’t actually that good. Trust me Hearts are very difficult to play against and I thought we could have scored more goals than we did.
“So it’s important for the players to see things that we do are working and will work and we need to retain belief. It’s always nice to go into a big Old Firm game on the back of a win.”