BRENDAN RODGERS is backing Celtic’s resolute stance on safety demands in the Glasgow derby ticket war.
The second time-around Hoops manager was involved in 11 of the pressurised encounters during his first stint at Parkhead and has always insisted the fixture has been damaged by the reduced numbers of travelling supporters and the recent total shut-outs of away fans.
But Rodgers is behind the champions’ hierarchy’s decision to reject 708 briefs for Ibrox a fortnight tomorrow amid safety concerns – and the insistence of the board to refuse tickets for away supporters for the match in the east end of Glasgow on December 30.
Ibrox chiefs are threatening to take their demand to the SPFL to receive their minimum allocation of around 800 briefs with the treble winners prepared to go to war with the game’s governing body in their bid to block travelling fans, as CQN reported yesterday.
Boss Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I think ultimately, from the club’s perspective, it’s about the safety of the game. That’s obviously the priority.
“I’ve obviously been lucky enough to watch the games over many years and to be a part of them in my first period here. I probably don’t want to get too much into it just now because of the timing of it.
“I can talk more on it leading into the game. But I’ve got my own views on it having felt the atmosphere and everything with it.”
In the meantime, Rodgers is preparing his players for the first defence of their Viaplay League Cup against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park tomorrow afternoon.
Out are injured trio Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and Stephen Welsh with new Bhoy Gustaf Lagerbiekle, who sealed his £3million move from Elfsborg in midweek, standing by for a quickfire debut in a new-look central defence alongside Maik Nawrocki.
Rodgers also welcomed back Alistair Johnston who has returned to full training following summer surgery. The Irishman added: “It’s brilliant. He’s training with us and he’s ahead of schedule.
“Alistair had his first training session with the team on Friday.
“He’s obviously not had any minutes on the pitch yet, so we need to take him safely through, because it’s a long season.”
Anthony Ralston has taken over the No.2 slot and the Scotland international will be in place for the meeting with Derek McInnes’ men tomorrow as the Hoops take their step towards the season’s first piece of silverware that is up for grabs.
Celtic are looking for a hat-trick in the trophy after back-to-back 2-1 successes over Hibs in season 2021/22 and Michael Beale’s Ibrox men last term.