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RODGERS GIVES DEMBELE THE NOD

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MOUSSA DEMBELE, the scourge of Sevco Rangers, is  to get the nod from Brendan Rodgers to lead the Celtic frontline at Ibrox this afternoon.

Rodgers admitted the French Under-21 striker’s four-goal haul against Mark Warburton’s side would have no bearing on his selection process for this encounter.

However, it could be that Dembele’s physical presence might swing it in the way of the 20-year-old powerhouse who claimed a hat-trick in the 5-1 victory in the reverse fixture at Parkhead in September.

And the former Fulham player followed that up with the winner in the Betfred League Cup semi-final at Hampden the following month.

Leigh Griffiths staked his claim and was Rodgers’ choice to start against Hamilton Accies, where he scored the opener in the 3-0 triumph, and the 2-0 midweek win over Ross County.

The Scotland international frontman was replaced in both games by Dembele.

He suffered a tight calf strain against Accies and missed the entire second-half as a precaution.

Earlier this week, CQN told you Griffiths had begged the Hoops gaffer for the opportunity of scoring his first-ever goal at the Govan ground.

But it looks as though Rodgers will not take any risks with the fitness of last season’s 40-goal man.

Rob Kiernan, who is awaiting a two-game ban after punching St Johnstone’s Steven Anderson in the 1-1 draw in Perth on Wednesday, will be free to play in this encounter.

However, the rugged centre-half and his central defensive partner Phillipe Senderos had no answer to the movement and courage of Dembele in the east end of Glasgow in September.

To such an extent, the Swiss international veteran was sent off late in the game after picking up his second booking for a needless hand ball.

Rodgers is to start with 18-goal Dembele and keep Griffiths, who has claimed 13 strikes in this campaign, on the bench.

Who knows? Lethal Leigh might still get that opportunity to score his first goal. 

 
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