BRENDAN RODGERS and Celtic face an “ugly” backlash if they are on the receiving end of a shock at Ibrox on Sunday.
That’s the view of former Hoops goal hero Chris Sutton who reckons the Irishman and his players are walking a tightrope with no safety net in sight as they prepare for the first derby of the season.
The champions are hardly in the best shape for the crucial confrontation after two blank performances as they toppled out of the Viaplay League Cup at the first hurdle at Kilmarnock which was followed by the frustrating scoreless stalemate with St Johnston who arrived in the east end of Glasgow as the Premiership’s bottom club.
COMEBACK BHOY…Alistair Johnston is ready to stand up and be counted at Ibrox.
Plus there is the horrendous injury list for Rodgers to contend with as key players such as Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate sidelined along with the likes of Maik Nawrocki, Stephen Welsh and Oh Hyeon-gyu.
Alistair Johnston kicked his first ball of the season against the Perth club and looked bright in the first-half, but he tired before being replaced by Anthony Ralston on the hour mark.
It would be highly doubtful there are 90 minutes in the legs of the Canada World Cup defender in such a gruelling test that can be anticipated in Govan.
Looking at the fixture, Sutton, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, admitted: “It’s massive. I remember when you put it to me about Brendan Rodgers returning and I said: ‘Absolutely no chance.’
“Anyway, he’s gone back there and it’s getting a little bit – dare I say ugly?
“Just because of Celtic’s iffy start to the season. They’re top of the league, but I’m just telling you there are Celtic supporters who probably were quiet because he was the best candidate to take the job.
WE’RE BEHIND YOU…Brendan Rodgers issues instructions to his players against St Johnstone as the Celtic fans look on expectantly.
“But with the way he left before, it could turn ugly pretty quickly especially if they get walloped at Ibrox.
“They haven’t done anywhere near enough work in the transfer market in terms of signings.”
Rodgers and the Hoops hierarchy are working overtime to bring in new players before Friday’s transfer deadline, but it’s clear the champions require recruits who have the quality to go straight into the first team.
So many of the six summer signings – such as Yang Hyun-jun, Odin Holm and Marco Tilio – are projects for the future.
Honduran winger Luis Palma is on his way, but it would be a huge risk to introduce him to Scottish football in a match against Michael Beale’s side in the frenzied atmosphere of a stadium without a Celtic supporter in sight.