BRENDAN RODGERS has told his Celtic players to prepare for Judgement Day at Ibrox this afternoon.
It’s an occasion when the Hoops will have to stand up to be counted in a partisan arena where there will not be a solitary Hoops supporter to add encouragement.
On the last occasion at the same ground, Ange Postecoglou’s side were turned over 3-0 in a game that didn’t matter with the destination of the title already decided the previous weekend following a 2-0 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle.
LEARNING CURVE…Yuki Kobayashi is knocked aside by John Souttar (No.16) as the Ibrox defender scores with a header in the derby in Govan last May.
However, it was clear too many performers in the green-and-white hoops didn’t turn up and it was a chastening experience for ball-playing centre-back Yuki Kobayashi who, in the words of Stilyan Petrov, was “bullied” by his opponents, as CQN reported in the aftermath of a dire performance not only from the Japanese defender but many of his more experienced team-mates.
Rodgers has seen his team fire blanks in consecutive games against Kilmarnock and St Johnstone and you have to go back to 1994 since they achieved an unwanted hat-trick.
However, the Irishman has already savoured four victories in five visits to Govan from his first stint as Hoops gaffer and is hoping to extend his win ratio on this occasion.
STRIFE O’RILEY…Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley holds his head in his hands in anguish after coming close to a goal at Ibrox last season.
Looking at his current squad of players which includes nine recruits from the summer transfer window, Rodgers said: “I’m still finding out about this group and that’s exciting in its own way.
“They’re not born as a good team; they have to grow to become that. A number of these players did the treble last year, but if you look at it, it’s a different group.
“Players want to move on and you have to regenerate the team. From the players who are there and playing, I will learn a lot for sure.
“This is where you get judged as a Celtic player – in games like this. So, you must have this courage to go and play with no fear, play the level of football that we want to. To take the ball, to take responsibility. Especially when you have no supporters there.
“Impose your way on the game, play with a speed and intensity and organisation that is consistent from the first whistle to the last.”
A BIG HAND…Brendan Rodgers enjoyed four successive victories at Ibrox first time-around.
Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I think if you can perform in these types of games then it’s a real marker for where you can go, always a good sign of your qualities going forward.
“I always think the biggest players perform in the biggest games and make the biggest contributions.
“That’s the nature of the big games.”
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