CHRIS SUTTON reckons Odsonne Edouard faces a crucial 10 minutes against Steven Gerrard’s side in the Scottish Cup fourth round encounter at Ibrox tomorrow afternoon.
The former Hoops goal hero insists the French striker has to show right from the off he is up for the challenge of keeping the holders on track for a record fifth successive triumph in the national competition.
Edouard possesses the qualities to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition rearguard and Sutton believes it is time for the 23-year-old frontman to deliver on the big stage.
The £9million former Paris Saint-Germain star is heading out of Parkhead in the summer, despite still having a year of his contract to run and the clash in Govan will give him the opportunity to say a proper farewell in the grand finale at Hampden on May 22.
READY, EDDY, GO…Odsonne Edouard strokes the ball beyond Allan McGregor in Celtic’s 2-0 win at Ibrox last season.
Sutton said: “Edouard owes the Celtic fans tomorrow. Fair enough, he was brilliant for the two previous seasons – but he’s been nowhere near it in this one.
“Everyone has seen it. Whether his head was turned for a spell or whatever, he’s been off the pace for long periods and it’s cost Celtic dearly.
“If he feels like it, he can terrorise the Rangers backline. You’ll know inside 10 minutes if he fancies it.”
And the one-time England international forward also looked at central defender Kristoffer Ajer to stand up to be counted.
The skyscraper back-four operator has also been reported to be on the brink of a move away from Glasgow and Sutton said he has a massive part to play in stopping the rot following an inexplicable and horrendous sequence of lost goals to corner-kicks and free-kicks in a wretched campaign.
He continued: “Ajer also needs to really step up and be a leader. The Norwegian has many qualities. You can see he cares and is good with the ball at his feet.
“Sadly, that’s not enough. Not when games are decided on fine margins. I want my centre-backs to be able to head the ball. Deal with danger, go and be dominant and defend like a man.
OOPS…Callum McGregor diverts in a right-wing corner-kick at Ibrox in January.
“The goals Celtic have lost from set-pieces this season have been ridiculous and, as the team’s main defender, he has to take a big chunk of the responsibility for that.
“Games against Rangers have shown it. Free header at a set-piece for Connor Goldson in the first one. Stupid own goal conceded a corner for Celtic to lose at Ibrox.
“Back at Parkhead and another abysmal goal from a set-play to Alfredo Morelos.
“It’s not all Ajer’s fault. It’s a collective. Nonetheless, top defenders go and make balls theirs. Just go and win them. Sense danger and snuff it out.
“I played alongside Bobo Balde. He couldn’t pass the ball five yards, but he’d have headed a breeze block out of the box if it got near our goal and thrown people out of the way to do so.
HEAVENS ABOVE…Kristoffer Ajer looks anguished.
“Ajer needs to do that tomorrow. Needs to make sure Celtic give away nothing cheap and give the team a platform to go and win it at the other end of the park.”
Looking at the previous derbies, Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Celtic barely got a kick in the first one, albeit key players ruled out due to Covid rules. Second game they played well, but couldn’t score and then shot themselves in foot after the break with a red card and stupid loss of a set-piece goal.
“Fair enough, Celtic were the better team last time. But it was a dead rubber, Rangers had come off a hard European game three days earlier and John Kennedy’s team still couldn’t win.
“It’s the biggest players who deliver in the biggest games.
“And if Edouard and Ajer are going to get the moves they think they are due in the summer, now would be a good time for them to show people they do it when their backs are to the wall and not just when their team is the dominant force.”