09 Mar Rodgers: Celtic will do their talking on the pitch
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has told Rangers players to “just be careful what you wish for” in response to them cheering the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final draw against the Hoops.
The Northern Irishman is preparing for Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with the Light Blues at Ibrox knowing that a huge roar erupted from the Rangers dressing room last weekend when they heard the draw after beating Falkirk in the quarter-finals.
While the rejuvenated Gers have lost only to Hibernian in their last 12 matches, Rodgers has not been defeated in eight games against Rangers since taking over the Parkhead club in 2016.
That includes three wins out of three at Ibrox and Celtic will travel to Govan this weekend six points clear of their rivals at the top of the table with a game in hand.
Rodgers, who revealed defender Dedryck Boyata and midfielder Stuart Armstrong return to the squad, said: “I have no thoughts on it really, either way.
“I was always taught, ‘just be careful what you wish for’, that’s how I was brought up.
“It tells you they expect to win and their supporters will clearly expect them to win.
“We are a group who like to do our talking on the pitch so that is something that we will continue to do.
“They will look to play better than what they did in the last pressure game that they had which was against Hibs, when Hibs played very well and won the game.
“For me, I can only control our own group .”
The former Swansea and Liverpool boss claims Rangers’ need for a victory is more pressing than that of his side, who are on course for a second successive domestic treble.
“There are different pressures for both teams,” he said.
“We want to win the game and we will focus very much on our performance.
“Rangers need to win the game and that’s the difference, there is a different psychology going into it, in relation to that.
“We will do what we have always done, which is to respect the other team that we play, no matter who it is.
“Our job is always to stay calm going into the game and make sure that we can perform and play how we want play.
“That has always been the message in these types of games.”
While right-back Mikael Lustig is suspended, Rodgers is boosted by the return of Boyata and Armstrong from respective groin injury and hernia operations.
Boyata last played against Kilmarnock on February 3 while Armstrong has been out since the goalless draw against Rangers at Celtic Park on Hogmanay.
“Stuart Armstrong comes back into the squad which is great news for us,” said Rodgers.
“He has been training for a few weeks but has been unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to get into any of the games.
“We played a practice game this week and he looked really strong.
“Dedryck is back, been training really well so he is available.”