BRENDAN RODGERS has warned Kilmarnock they will face a different Celtic team on Sunday from the one they dumped out of the Viaplay League Cup in August.
The Irishman suffered his first domestic Cup defeat in 25 games as Hoops gaffer when they lost 1-0 at Rugby Park in only his third game since returning to Parkhead in June.
Maik Nawrocki and Gustaf Lagerbielke were the champions’ central defenders, Odin Holm was in midfield and winger Yang Hyun-jun came on as a second-half substitute in the fairly feeble performance against Derek McInnes’ side.
TAKING NOTES…Brendan Rodgers on the Rugby Park touchline in August.
However on this occasion, Rodgers will face Killie with 22 matches under his belt and the team is beginning to click under his guidance.
As he prepared for the High Noon showdown on the plastic pitch, the team chief said: “Certainly, the team is now a far different place to where it was back then.
“It was probably a good time to play us, with players coming in and the challenges we would have had at the beginning of the season, but it’s a different team now; the organisation, the structure of the team, the attitude – everything is different.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be an easy game. Derek has really put his team in a good place in the top six.
“They’re hard to beat and we travel there knowing it’s going to be a tough game, but from our perspective, we look like we’re in a different place.”
The confrontation will be the first of six before the January 2 match against St Mirren in Paisley before the winter break with the next game scheduled for Sunday January 21 when Buckie Thistle are the visitors in the Scottish Cup fourth round.
DOWN AND OUT…Gustaf Lagerbielke shows his disappointment following the Cup exit at Kilmarnock.
Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “That’s part of being a big club. You’re going to get games with very little rest and recovery in between.
“But we’ve known that, the players have coped well with it and we’ll now look forward to our next game on Sunday and look to maintain the level.”
As he got his players ready for the rigours of the artificial surface, the Hoops boss added: “It’s clear that every coach would want to play on a grass pitch – and the sooner that is the possibility up here, the better it will be for everybody.
“I understand the economics of it all and what it will mean to some clubs, but I think there should be a certain level and a certain standard of which every team, if you’re playing in the top flight, should have a grass pitch.”