Sunday 22 September 2019

Rodgers hopeful Old Firm clash will pass safely and focus stays on the football

Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters
Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters

Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers has told Rangers that restricting the size of the Celtic support may not be an advantage in today's Old Firm clash at Ibrox.

The Hoops will have just 750 fans backing them after the Govan club cut the traditional 7,000 away allocation for derby games.

The Parkhead boss, who revealed left-back Kieran Tierney is still a doubt with a hip injury, believes that having 50,000 Gers in the stands will not necessarily work in favour of Steven Gerrard's side.

He said: "My feeling always is that it is better in both grounds whenever both sets of supporters are there.

"However, they are not. There will be about 750 of our supporters there.

"We hope the whole game can pass safely and there's no issues around that and it is just the football.

"But it can work for and against you as the home team in that situation, when you have predominately the support in the ground.

"It can add something to the players, either a positive or a negative.

"But we just have to approach the game as we always do with our own way of working, respect Rangers are a good team, they've had some very good results this year.

"We will give them the respect that they deserve, as we do every team and look to focus on our own game, look to play well and get a win."

After a thrilling 4-3 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on St Stephen's Day, Celtic are three points ahead of the Light Blues with a better goal difference and with a game in hand.

Unbeaten

Moreover, Rodgers is unbeaten in 12 games against Rangers since taking over at the Parkhead club in 2016, with 10 wins and two draws, and he is looking to guide a Celtic side to five straight wins at Ibrox for the first time since 1909.

The Northern Irishman noted that his side are in a positive place going into the last game of the year before the January break, although he insists records are unimportant.

"Whatever the result will be at the end of the game we will be in a good position or a very good position," he said.

"We can go and look to play our own game and like I say, we will be in a good position irrespective.

"If we get the win we want we will be in a very good position with a game in hand and a number of points clear.

"But there is still a long way to go. It is only the end of December. We will be thankful of the break when it comes and we can recharge and re-set again and hopefully push on in the second half of the season.

"The records aren't important. It's more about how we play and giving the supporters what they want which is to win and win well.

"We've played there very well and we arrive into this game performing well which is important.

"The players are confident but we know we always have to work and that would be our aim."

Tierney has missed Celtic's last four games but was due to be assessed yesterday evening.

"We will see after today," said Rodgers, who will be without midfielder Tom Rogic who is away on international duty with Australia.

"He is a doubt but we will assess him after training and see where he is at.

"Jozo Simunovic is back in training, everyone else from the day is fine." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Rangers v Celtic,

Live, Sky Sports, 12.30

Telegraph.co.uk

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport