CELTIC have seven crucial Premiership hurdles to clear before the league split on the weekend of April 13/14.

The champions, bidding for their twelfth crown in 13 years, are on title thin ice after carelessly allowing a seven-point advantage to somersault into a two-point deficit.

Brendan Rodgers’ side have failed to spark on a consistent basis in this campaign, a fact that was highlighted at the weekend when Kilmarnock levelled in stoppage-time to become the fourth team to take points from the venue that was an impregnable fortress at this stage last term.

St Johnstone and Motherwell have also managed draws in the east end of Glasgow and, even worse, Hearts triumphed 2-0 in a shocker of a confrontation in December.

FLAG HAPPY…Kyogo Furuhashi flashes Celtic’s opener beyond Hearts keeper Zander Clark to put the champions on their way to a 2-0 victory at Tynecastle on May 7 last year to spark back-to-back title celebrations.

It’s been more of a stumble than a stroll for Rodgers and his players as they have opened the door to the city rivals to ensure the Hoops face a tense countdown to the campaign’s crescendo.

Last season, the flag was wrapped up after goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu gave the defending champions a 2-0 victory at Tynecastle on May 7 with four games still to play.

Now is the time for today’s players to stand up to be counted and emphasis why they have been entrusted to overcome the present challenge.

That commences with Sunday’s noon kick-off against Motherwell at Fir Park, a venue where the visitors required a stoppage-time goal from Matt O’Riley to emerge victorious on September 30.

The list of the seven critical encounters:

Sunday, February 25

Motherwell v CELTIC (12)

Wednesday, February 28

CELTIC v Dundee (7.45)

Sunday, March 3

Hearts v CELTIC (12)

Sunday, March 10

CELTIC v Livingston (2.30)

Saturday, March 16

CELTIC v St Johnstone (3)

Sunday, April 7

Rangers v CELTIC (12)

Saturday, April 13

CELTIC v St Mirren (3)

* League split: APRIL 13/14





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