Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has continued his attempts to wind up Celtic by accusing Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers of having a “mid-life crisis”.
Barton and Celtic skipper Scott Brown have traded jibes over the summer and the former Newcastle, Manchester City and QPR midfielder turned his attentions to Rodgers in a light-hearted barb during a radio interview.
Barton told talkSPORT: “I’ve not managed to run into him yet. I know the places he goes and the places I go probably differ with the tan and the teeth and that kind of thing.
“They’re not the kind of establishments I rock up at. I’m not having a mid-life crisis.”
Barton was more serious when looking ahead to his first taste of Glasgow derby action at Celtic Park on September 10, labelling it a ” once in a career experience”.
“It’s a great rivalry,” he said. “As you can imagine, in the city you see both sides of it. Everybody up here is happy that the Old Firm is back on the table.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere. I like the tongue-in-cheek stuff and having a joke but when it comes down to the game, it’s two massive football institutions and I absolutely can’t wait for it.
“I respect the tradition and the history that’s gone before it and the competitive element.
“It seems Scottish football was in a little bit of a lull to say the least before this season, and it seems everyone is excited. There’s a bit of a buzz around the city.
“Hopefully it’s the start of Scottish football getting itself back on the map, not only in the British Isles but also in European competition as well.”
Before the derby, Rangers face Motherwell and Kilmarnock and Barton has learnt not to underestimate any Ladbrokes Premiership opponent after an opening-day draw with Hamilton and a 2-1 victory at Dundee.
“It’s not the same as the Premier League but what I didn’t account for, everyone tells you when you come up here that the Old Firm is everyone’s cup final,” the 34-year-old said.
“You either get Rangers fans or Celtic fans playing for the other teams and they want to show you that you’re in their place and they should be playing for the Old Firm. The lads are absolutely committed.
“We played Hamilton on the opening day of the season at Ibrox and everyone thought we only had to turn up to win the game. But they competed fantastically well, they were organised, they had a couple of experienced competitors like Massimo Donati and they made it really, really tough for us.
“We went to Dundee and we thought we should have been gone by half-time. The football we played at times was exceptional. But credit to them, they hung in there, I lost my marker at a corner and they scored just before half-time. And they just kept coming and coming at us in the second half and fought tooth and nail for it.
“So you have to scrap and battle for every three points. Okay, it doesn’t have the technical quality of the English Premier League but what they lack in technical quality, they make up for in abundance in fighting spirit and their attitude.”