CELTIC v ZENIT ST PETERS­BURG Sincy feels Zen over City snubs from Mancini and only wants to show his true worth for Celts

EUROPA LEAGUE:

Evening Times - - SPORT - By ALI­SON McCON­NELL

IF ever there was an ideal time for Scott Sin­clair to hit the scin­til­lat­ing form he pro­duced last term for Celtic, tonight would be it.

The Hoops winger will be re­united with Roberto Mancini, the man­ager who took him from Swansea to Manch­ester City in 2012 in a £6.2mil­lion switch.

It did not end well with Sin­clair left out of en­tire match squads at times and barely reg­is­ter­ing any game time.

If he is bit­ter about the move or the lack of op­por­tu­ni­ties un­der Mancini, it does not show. Qui­etly spo­ken and keen to fo­cus on the here and now rather than look over his shoul­der, the 28-year-old main­tained that he has nei­ther hard feel­ings nor a point to prove.

And yet, get­ting the last word by shin­ing brightly in the two legs against the Rus­sians this week would surely of­fer some glim­mer of sat­is­fac­tion.

“When I went to City, I was high in con­fi­dence be­cause the club bought me, but then I didn’t get any­where close to the games that I wanted, and that con­fi­dence does go down a lit­tle bit be­cause I’ve not been play­ing as much,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say I have a point to prove to him. It’s for my­self. I have al­ways set my own tar­gets, my own level, and try to do as well as I can for my­self. I don’t feel as if I have any­thing to prove to any­one.

“It is just one of those things. I don’t have any re­grets about any of my moves be­cause they all teach you and they helped me be­come the player and man I am now.

“You have to go through tough times to come out of the end of them.

“When I went to City, I played only a few games un­der him, but what I would say is that he’s a good man­ager, a re­ally tac­ti­cal man­ager, and I am sure he will be look­ing to win this game.

“He did spend a lot of money on me but then City spent a lot of money on every­one else as well! That’s the way it was. When I went to City there were so many to qual­ity play­ers there who I was com­pet­ing with.

“I would have like to have got more game-time there but what I would say is that I’m a com­pletely dif­fer­ent player to what I was at City. I am a bet­ter player at Celtic than I was at Manch­ester City. I’m a very dif­fer­ent player.”

Last sea­son Sin­clair had ev­ery bit of the swag­ger that Mancini would have caught sight of at Swansea. This term the winger has kept the goals com­ing for the Park­head side – all 17 of them – but he hasn’t ap­peared to carry the same con­fi­dence into games.

THERE is a sug­ges­tion that could be lev­elled across the board at Celtic’s per­for­mances this term as a whole.

In­deed, af­ter the home de­feat to An­der­lecht in De­cem­ber, Bren­dan Rodgers was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally vo­cal about in his crit­i­cism of the play­ers as he pub­licly lamented some of the dis­plays and the lack of con­cen­tra­tion at Euro­pean level.

Tonight’s meet­ing is an op­por­tu­nity to atone for that in some ways, al­beit that a team who in­vested £80m of re­sources to freshen up their squad last sum­mer would give Celtic prob­lems on any night.

“We want to go and show that as a team,” said Sin­clair. “We need to put on a great per­for­mance when we go out there.

“The main thing is to win the game but ob­vi­ously to also put a show for the fans as well.

“We take it on board. In ev­ery game we go into, we want to per­form and we want to win. That game was no dif­fer­ent. That’s just the way we are as a team and the man­ager is the same.”

And Sin­clair is keen to pro­vide the spark that will ig­nite the home sup­port. The Park­head side are not ex­pected to pre­vail against the wealth of the Rus­sians, bit for Sin­clair the bag­gage of that does not fea­ture on the radar.

“Celtic Park is an un­be­liev­able place when we have the fans be­hind us,” he said. “The at­mos­phere is amaz­ing. I think that can spur us on even more.

“As a player, you don’t re­ally go into things think­ing about how much play­ers are worth. You go toe to toe with them and put in your shift – and try and make sure you are the one who per­forms bet­ter on the day.

“We don’t go into it think­ing about how play­ers are worth.”

The stage is set to serve a re­minder of his own value.

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