CELTIC will be without the vociferous backing of their amazing support when they take on Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side in the Glasgow derby at Parkhead on Saturday.
However, the nine-in-a-row champions can still sparkle in the silence and win the three points that will catapult them back to the Premiership pinnacle with two points to spare and a game in hand.
That’s the verdict of former fans’ favourite Kris Commons as Neil Lennon prepares his players in the midst of a Covid-10 crisis which could leave him without Osonne Edouard, Ryan Christie and Israeli international couble-act Hatem Abd Elhamed and Nir Bitton.
The ex-Scotland international midfielder who quit the Hoops in 2017 a year after the arrival of Brendan Rodgers told the Daily Mail: “Although I do believe that the closed-doors environment is something of a leveller here, the best football side should still emerge with the three points.
“That’s what Neil Lennon will be saying to his players. They are champions for a reason, they are on a good run without playing exceptionally well and if they perform to their capability, they should come out on top.
“They just have to find a different way of winning this one. Normally, the atmosphere ensures the game takes care of itself, but this time the players have to look within for their motivation.”
Commons added: “No matter who the opponent is, there’s nothing worse than playing in an empty stadium. It’s just going to be so eerie.
“Even though they’ve played almost a full round of fixtures behind closed doors, it will truly hit them when both the buses let them off at the top of the Celtic Way.
“That’s when the enormity of the occasion would normally hit you, thousands of fans crammed behind barriers just gives you that last little reminder of exactly what this fixture means.
“When our bus drew up at Ibrox, we’d get dog’s abuse from the Rangers fans. No team talk was required after that.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that this new scenario does favour Rangers. Home advantage is so much to do with the hostile atmosphere that the Celtic fans create. That’s one less thing for Steven Gerrard’s players to contend with.
“Similarly, the fact those Celtic fans won’t be cheering every throw-in or corner their side wins won’t do Neil Lennon’s players any favours. As a player, I thrived on getting our fans out of their seats.”
Despite the lack of fans, Lennon has seen Scotland’s title winners triumph in their four previous league outings in the east end of Glasgow against Hamilton Accies (5-1), Motherwell (3-0), Livingston (3-2) and Hibs (3-0).
Another win on Saturday in the 12.30pm showdown will give everyone of a Celtic persuasion something to shout about.