THE Hampden pitch was anything but a national treasure when Celtic overcame Kilmarnock 2-0 in the Viaplay League Cup semi-final last month.

The underfoot conditions were churned up during a relentless downpour which interrupted the normal rhythm of the champions who still managed to get through with a first-half effort from Daizen Maeda and a late strike from Giorgos Giakoumakis, notching his final goal for the club.

Ange Postecoglou was critical of the playing surface, but relented is his comments when he inspected the turf earlier this week, as CQN reported.

REIGNING IN THE RAIN…Callum McGregor races away from a Killie defender last month. 

Skipper Callum McGregor, who lifted his first piece of silverware as Hoops captain in the competition when two goals from Kyogo Furuhashi down Hibs 2-1 in a dramatic finale at the venue in December 2021, is looking forward to staging an action replay when the champions take on Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit at the weekend.

Reflecting on the team’s previous visit against Derek McInnes’ Rugby Park battlers, the midfield anchorman said: “There was obviously a lot of talking points after the semi-finals.

“Good to see that it is looking better and, hopefully, come Sunday we will have a really good playing surface to play on.

“Obviously, I am looking forward to the game, it is a massive occasion and something I think all the squad are looking forward to. Can’t wait for Sunday.

UP FOR THE CUP…Callum McGregor with his first trophy as Celtic skipper, last season’s League Cup after the 2-1 win over Hibs at Hampden.

“Going into big games like this, you want everybody in form and, more importantly, the team functioning properly, which it is. Free flowing, good at the back, a strong unit not conceding many goals and scoring at the top end.”

McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “If the structure is clear and what the manager is asking you to do is clear, then it takes away any grey area.

“It doesn’t really matter how big the game is or what competition you are playing in, you’re playing in the same way and approach it in the same way.

“Ultimately, players understand what we need to give to the game.”

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