BRENDAN RODGERS is hoping to witness swagger instead of stagger from his Celtic players against St Johnstone at Parkhead on Saturday.

The champions have met the Perth outfit twice this season and have toiled for three-quarters of the contests.

In the first in the east end of Glasgow in August, the Hoops stumbled their way through a dismal scoreless stalemate against opponents who were bottom of the league at the time.

It was a similar story in December at McDiarmid Park where the visitors trailed 1-0 at the interval in another bewilderingly inept display with the team well off the pace against eager hosts.

THE EQUALISER…Callum McGregor yells with delight after making it 1-1 with the hosts failing to share his joy.

Mercifully, Callum McGregor drove the team to a more acceptable level with a leader’s performance in which he drilled in the crucial equalising goal and Matt O’Riley joined in with a contender for Goal of the Season as he lashed the Hoops into the lead with a memorable second.

Evergreen James Forrest capped a fine revival with a third following good service from Tomoki Iwata.

Crocked duo McGregor and Honduran winger Luis Palma will miss the visit of Craig Levein’s side while Yang Hyun-jun, bizarrely red-carded at Tynecastle, will complete his two-game suspension.

WONDERBHOY…Matt O’Riley celebrates after his world-class strike for No.2 in Perth.

THREE AND EASY…James Forrest races away after the clinching goal as he leaves keeper Dimitov Mitov and defender Liam Gordon helpless.

Rodgers expects another tough examination of the champions’ qualities and admitted: “Craig’s team will be very hard to beat. They will be diligent.

“Even though we should have won the game earlier in the season, we drew 0-0, we missed chances and they showed courage to defend the way they did.

“In the game up there, the first-half wasn’t at our level, that tempo of the game. But once we injected that tempo and took it out of our comfort zone, we took the game to a really high level.”

Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “It was difficult for St Johnstone to stay with us.

“That is the key for us, maintaining that consistency and mentality to keep the game up at a high level.

“When we get to that point and arrive at that moment then we look a very good team.”


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