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Celtic not scared

By April 22, 2017No Comments

Brendan Rodgers has warned Rangers his Celtic side will march on Hampden at full strength as they look to take another major step towards the treble.

The Hoops boss admits he turned his attention to Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final showdown as soon as his side clinched the Ladbrokes Premiership title three weeks ago.

And he has the benefit of being able to pick from his full compliment of stars as he prepares for his first duel with new Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha.

Skipper Scott Brown is available after Parkhead chiefs appealed against the red card he received against Ross County last weekend, while Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig are also back after sitting out the 2-2 draw in Dingwall.

Rodgers said: “Since we wrapped up the league title against Hearts it has given me the opportunity to have a look at one or two items of our game and one or two players to make sure they get game time.

“Last week at Ross County I was able to take one or two players out to make sure they were right for this weekend.

“I’ve got the real luxury of every single player being available.

“That’s a great testament to how hard the players work and how they look after their bodies and also to my medical team here.

“After we won the league, yes we wanted to win every single game but there was also a big focus to arrive in the best condition we could and physically we’re in a great condition with everybody fit, fighting and ready to go.”

With the league crown and the Betfred Cup won, Celtic will now hope to keep their quest for a first domestic clean sweep in 16 years on track by seeing off their bitter rivals at the national stadium.

But that does not mean Rodgers is willing to go overboard with his pre-match statements.

Asked if he could now talk openly about the Hoops’ treble ambitions, Rodgers said: “No, not really. I said a few weeks back this is a real focus for us going into this game.

“But we have to win it and if we do, we will go to the final where we will have another tough game.

“It’s a trophy we want to win but we have to go show that at the weekend.

“We’re very calm. We’re very focused. We know what the job is and the magnitude. You don’t need to magnify a Celtic v Rangers game. They are huge games.

“What’s important is that you retain calm and focus. We’ll be there to fight for our lives for however long it is – 90 minutes or 120 minutes.

“We hope that our performance levels and qualities shine through. You never know. Sometimes a bit of luck goes against you or a wrong decision which you can’t control.

“But as I’ve said from the very first day of the season we’ll be ready and we’ll be ready for this game.”