ALAN MUIR will be in charge of Celtic’s first defence of their Viaplay League Cup against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday.

The match official will be seen as something of a lucky omen for the champions. Remarkably, he has been the man in the middle in 39 previous Hoops games – and the Parkhead side have remained unbeaten.

In fact, last season’s treble winners have won 35 of the encounters while there have been stalemates against Falkirk, St Johnstone, Dundee and Dundee United.

PENALTY…referee Alan Muir has no hesitation in pointing to the spot after a handball from Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson. Aaron Mooy looks on before scoring his second goal in the 4-0 win at Easter Road last December.

Muir was the referee in the title kings’ last league game of the campaign when they romped to a 5-0 victory over Aberdeen on trophy day at Parkhead on May 27 when doubles from Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu and one from Carl Starfelt, his third and final goal for the club, saw the team bring down the curtain on the league crusade with a flourish.

Frank Connor and Colin Drummond will act as assistants with Euan Anderson as the fourth official. Don Robertson will be in the VAR room along with Gary Hilland.

Returning boss Brendan Rodgers has a special affinity with the League Cup – it was the first piece of silverware he lifted first time around when he guided the team to a 3-0 triumph over Aberdeen.

The Irishman also lifted it the following season with a 2-0 win over Motherwell and he completed the hat-trick when Ryan Christie scored the only goal of a tight encounter against the Dons in December 2018.

Pittodrie boss on both occasions was Derek McInnes, who will be in the Killie dug-out at the weekend.

Celtic claimed the trophy again in February with two goals from Kyogo in their 2-1 triumph over Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit at Hampden.

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