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‘I WON’T UNDERESTIMATE BRECHIN AFTER LIVERPOOL FA CUP HELL,’ RODGERS

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BRENDAN RODGERS insists Celtic will give Brechin City every respect when they kick off the defence of their Scottish Cup at Parkhead this wintry afternoon.

The Glebe Park outfit are the only team in Britain without a league win as they toil in the championship, but the Hoops boss reckons they could be inspired in front of a big crowd in the east end of Glasgow.

And Rodgers is taking nothing for granted after being on the wrong end of an FA Cup sensation during his reign as Liverpool gaffer.

An Anfield side boasting the likes of Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling flopped 3-2 against Oldham at Boundary Park five years ago.

The Hoops chief recalled: “The first season at Liverpool we lost at Oldham. I changed the team around quite a lot for the FA Cup.

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“It wasn’t the first game because we had beaten Mansfield away, Daniel Sturridge scored his first goal, and then we played up in Oldham.

“There were a lot of changes and we were punished for it.”

Rodgers added: “It has been tough for Darren Dods, but this match, with 60,000 at Celtic Park, will give them some motivation.

“I have studied Brechin and watched them. They haven’t won a game and have four draws, but when I look at the team they are playing for the manager.

“It is not as if it is a team that is downing tools and not playing or not working for him. They are a team that is part-time in what is predominantly a full-time league. The guys are giving their all.

“It doesn’t mean we disrespect them. We expect to go into the game, work well and get through.

“You just have to be ready. There can be no complacency. We just have to focus on ourselves and do what we normally do.

“I’m looking forward to the game. You always want a home game in this scenario.

“Last year when we came back, we were away against Albion Rovers at Airdie and played well and won 3-0. That set us on the way to winning the trophy.”

Rodgers reckons his players are raring to go as they look to seal back-to-back trebles for the first time in Scottish football history.

He added: “We have a lot fewer games in the second half of the season compared to what we played first half.

“We pressed the refresh button in Dubai and we’re really excited for the second part of the season.

“We’ll definitely be a lot fresher, it’s natural. The players did brilliantly to get through to that point of the season and through December when it was demanding a real burden on your physicality and mentality.

“They came through it well and finished eight points ahead.

“Everyone was in need of a break. To go through that period that we had from June was very demanding from a physical and a mental perspective.

“If I trace back our success, a lot of it is also to do with the spirit in the group and we were able to reinforce that when we were away.

“We made good use of the breather and now we come back and get ready to compete.”

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