DAVIE HAY insists Celtic WILL win their twelfth title in 13 years, but states his old club will have to perform at their highest standards to clear their remaining six league hurdles.

The former Hoops player and manager is convinced his old club won’t falter as they focus on the main prize.

Hay, speaking to author Alex Gordon in another CQN EXCLUSIVE, delivered his forthright verdict as Brendan Rodgers prepares his players for the first of the challenges against St Mirren at Parkhead tomorow.

The 76-year-old club ambassador said: “It is absolutely imperative that Reo Hatate continues his comeback without mishap because he is crucial to the way the team play.

ON THE BALL…Reo Hatate in action in the dramatic stoppage-time 2-1 win at Motherwell in September.

“The Japanese midfielder offers the team so much with his all-round play. He has the uncanny ability of drifting into vulnerable areas and can create alarm in these situations.

“We saw that Ibrox on Sunday. On two occasions in the first-half, he fashioned two opportunities just outside the box. Both flew off target, but the warning signals were flashing.

“I have no doubt if Hatate had consistent outings behind him up to this stage he would have made the keeper work, at the very least.

“In many ways, his season is starting now. He has six games to show what the team has missed for the bulk of the campaign.

“Plus there is the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden a week tomorrow where he will have the ideal opportunity to go through his repertoire.

“A Cup Final on the iconic date of May 25 – against either Philippe Clement’s side or Hearts – would be an excellent platform for a very talented player to showcase his talents.”

WE’RE BEHIND YOU…Callum McGregor has the backing of the Celtic support.

Hay continued: “Callum McGregor, of course, came on for Hatate at Ibrox in the 65th minute. I would think it was a prearranged swap with both players knowing what to expect.

“It was the captain’s first appearance since coming off at the interval in the 7-1 home win over Dundee at the end of February.

“He missed four consecutive games and there can be little doubt his team-mates were aware of the lack of his presence as the player who stitches it all together.

“A player such as Callum is absolutely vital to any team, a talented individual who rarely gets the headlines, but is one of the first names on the manager’s team sheets.

“When I was the Celtic boss, I was fortunate to have a few players who were among the first picks. I didn’t have to spend too much time in the selection process with these characters.

“I’m talking about the likes of Danny McGrain, Paul McStay, Roy Aitken and Tommy Burns. Guys blessed with their qualities and their urge to win are utterly invaluable.

“I would place Callum McGregor in that company. I can pay the skipper no higher a compliment.”

A STROLL IN THE PARK…a triumphant Matt O’Riley after scoring Celtic’s second goal at Ibrox in the 3-3 draw.

The Celtic great added: “Brendan Rodgers will be hoping Reo and Callum bodyswerve any setbacks between now and the end of the season.

“Throw Matt O’Riley into the mix and you have a winning combination, a middle-of-the-park formula that would be the envy of most other teams.

“And, of course, we have Tomoki Iwata, steady and reliable, and Paulo Bernardo, a bit of a maverick, on stand-by. From my viewpoint, my old club are in a good place.

“Nothing can be taken for granted, though. No-one can afford to take their eye off the ball. Football history is littered with ¬†teams who should have won, but ended with zilch because their attitude was not right.

“If there are no unforeseen interruptions – and I think we’ve had more than enough of them over the past month or so – and Celtic are allowed to concentrate on the actual football, I can only predict success over the next few weeks.

“Make mine a double, Brendan!”


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