ANGE POSTECOGLOU insists his Celtic players are about to experience their biggest test of character of the season.

The Hoops boss anticipates a lot of hard work ahead to get his team back on track following the massive disappointment of the Scottish Cup semi-final extra-time exit at Hampden at the weekend.

Postecoglou’s team fell way below the expected standards they have set since his arrival in June to reinvigorate Parkhead during his monumental revamp of his squad.

Praise has been showered on the performers in green and white for domestic achievements with the team sitting six points clear at the Premiership summit with five games to play and the Premier Sports League Cup already won in December.

THANK YOU…Callum McGregor leads the Celtic players as they applaud the supporters at Hampden.

However, the falter against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox outfit has derailed any thoughts of being in the position to bring down the curtain on an incredibly exciting season with a grand finale in the Scottish Cup crescendo against Hearts at the national stadium on May 21.

It is now time for the players to pick themselves up and prepare to go again with the dangerous Ross County awaiting their presence at their tight, little ground in Dingwall on Sunday at 2.30pm.

The philosophy of the Greek-Australian gaffer remains intact as he points out: “The road to success is not downhill, mate.

“It requires effort every single step of the way. Sometimes you’ll stumble – and we’ve stumbled a few times this year as a group – and we’ve managed to bounce back quickly.

“That’s what we’ve got to do again, but just because it’s happened in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the future.

“What you do know is that we’re capable of it, we’ve used it the right way in the past and we use this disappointment in the right way for next week.”

DOUBLE TAKE…Cameron Carter-Vickers and Joe Hart pay tribute to the Celtic fans.

Preparing for the challenges that lie in wait, Postecoglou, speaking to The Herald, added: “This is just another. We’ve had quite a lot of setbacks this year and we’ve got to use the disappointment to fuel what’s left in terms of the season.

“We’ve got five games to become champions, so we have to go out there and perform well in every one of those games, win those games and, hopefully, if that happens then the players will get the rewards I think they deserve for their performances this season.”

The Hoops boss utilised six substitutes at Hampden on Sunday and players such as Josip Juranovic and Greg Taylor looked in a bit of distress as they were removed from the action.

Postecoglou will await progress reports from his medical team before he sets about assembling his squad for the match in the Highlands where a 10-man Celtic team – minus the red-carded Carl Starfelt – claimed three points with a winner from Anthony Ralston deep in stoppage time earlier in the campaign.

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