BRENDAN RODGERS will be patrolling the touchline at Ibrox a week tomorrow – and that is a “major bonus” for Celtic, according to former goal hero Chris Sutton.

The Hoops boss will be in the stand at Livingston tomorrow for the noon kick-off as he serves an SFA one-game ban with another match suspended after his comments about the “incompetent” performances of referee Don Robertson and VAR official John Beaton in the inflammable 2-0 loss at Tynecastle.

Rodgers will be removed from the dug-out for the first time in his managerial career that includes Reading, Watford, Swansea City, Liverpool and Leicester City as well as a double stint at Parkhead.

HAIL, HAIL…Brendan Rodgers acknowledges the Celtic fans after the 2-1 derby triumph in December.

However, Sutton insists the Irishman will relish being on top of the action in Govan in an encounter which will undoubtedly go a long way to deciding the destination of the title.

The one-time England international said: “Celtic can claim they are disappointed Brendan Rodgers has been hit with a one-game ban for speaking his mind.

“But we all know they will be secretly delighted with the result of Thursday’s SFA disciplinary hearing at Hampden.

“Rodgers will be in the technical area at Ibrox next weekend – and that has to be a win. Unlike his first spell at the club, there might have been some missteps this season and some questionable calls over the campaign.

“We all know the two transfer windows were not good enough, too many performances have been under par to allow a pretty average Rangers side back into the title race – and the less said about Europe the better.”

THE SIGNS ARE GOOD…Brendan Rodgers accepts the acclaim of the Celtic support after the 2-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road last month.

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “The manager has to carry some of the can for all of that.

“Yet, to me, there is no doubt having Rodgers in the technical area for the Glasgow derby is a major bonus. He has shown over the years that is where he is at his best.

“You go back to his time in charge in the 3-2 win at Ibrox with 10 men. Rodgers’ in-game management was superb, and his move to keep two up top paid off and probably delivered the title that day.

“No-one can argue about Rodgers’ tactical acumen. He has an ability to see things on the pitch and make the key decisions that can alter games. That will be crucial for the derby when anything can happen and all hell can break loose at any moment.

“Rodgers will need to pit his wits against a Rangers manager who knows what he is doing, unlike some of the previous guys who sat in that dug-out.

“And I’m sure Rodgers is relieved he’ll be in the thick of it next Sunday, rather than cut off in the stands. The fact it was in doubt is a strange one, mind you.

BIG NOISE…Brendan Rodgers urges on his Celtic players from his usual place on the touchline. 

“As soon as he said the word ‘incompetence’ and named VAR official John Beaton along with Don Robertson, we all knew he was in bother and a ban would be inevitable under the rules.

“But I just wonder how come no other manager has copped it this season? Pretty much all of them have been critical of VAR or referees.”

Sutton added: “I’ve seen strong stuff from Derek McInnes, Steven Naismith, Stuart Kettlewell has recently gone to town and Philippe Clement has taken the odd pop.

“Neil Warnock was only here a few weeks and moaned about it after most games.

“None of those guys ended up in the dock. It seems it’s okay to infer officials are incompetent – but you can’t actually say it. Rodgers just said what they are all thinking, what most of us are thinking.

“In courts, you can’t get done for defamation if what you say is true. But it doesn’t seem to work that way in the SFA legal system. Even if the officials were incompetent, you are not allowed to say it.

“Rodgers will take his slap on the wrists, but for everyone’s sake I hope the people in charge take note and raise their game.”

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