THE curtain comes down on the action for 2023 at Parkhead this afternoon when Celtic take on Ibrox opposition in front of a partisan 60,000 sell-out audience.

And captain Callum McGregor is eager to make certain the champions sign off in style with a triumph that will push them eight points ahead at the Premiership pinnacle.

The inspirational midfielder was at his usual instrumental best when the teams last locked horns in Govan in September on the afternoon Kyogo Furuhashi flashed in the only goal of the contest with a devastating volley for a well-deserved winner.

Tension has been growing as kick-off has neared and McGregor admitted: “The players can’t wait. You know when these games come around there’s always excitement surrounding the game, inside the building, outside the building.

WALLOP…Callum McGregor fires a shot at goal in Celtic’s 3-0 win over Dundee at Dens Park on Boxing Day.

“So, it’s just our job to stay calm and understand what we need to do, what we need to bring to the game to make it a success.

“The players have trained well and, like I say, we’re ready to go and looking forward to it.

”I’ve been here many, many years now and it’s always tight going into Christmas, so we’re at that stage again.

“It’s tight, the games are always big games. You have four of them throughout the year and if you want to be successful then you have to win the majority of them, so that’s where we are.

“The next game is always important for us and this is the next game, and once we deal with that then the next most important game will be the one after that.

“That’s just the nature of league football, you have to continually win and put performances and results together to be successful. So, this is just the next step on the way.”

The visitors will be led by new manager Philippe Clement who will making his debut in the fixture and McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, observed: “They are in a good moment, they feel good about themselves, so that brings a natural bounce and energy.

RISE AND SHINE…Callum McGregor leaps to head clear with Dundee defender Cammy Kerr challenging. Liam Scales looks on. 

“And, like I said, it’s now up to us, it’s a home game for us, we have to go and take the game to them and implement our style on the game and try to be successful in the game.

“I don’t see too much change in terms of actual style if you watch the games, but what they are in a sort of confident mood, so it’ll make for a good game.”

The 30-year-old Scotland international anchorman added: “These home games are hugely important, especially when you don’t have the other set of supporters in the stadium, then it’s important that we try and start on the front foot, get involved in the game.

“We’ve seen it many times that the crowd can get on top of you and make it a really positive atmosphere, so that’s everything that we’ll try to do in the game.

“We want to go and play our football, then naturally bring the crowd into it – and I’m sure they’ll come in full voice, anyway.

“They know it’s a big game, we know it’s a big game and it has all the hallmarks for what we hope will be a positive day.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Rangers at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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