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Andy Walker believes the nine-point gap between Celtic and Rangers at the top of the cinch Premiership “will only get bigger” before the end of the season.

The Hoops built up their current advantage over their city rivals before the World Cup break when Giovanni van Bronckhorst was in charge of the Gers.

Since then Michael Beale has taken the reins at Ibrox and has matched the Hoops stride for stride in the league by collecting 31 points from a possible 33.

However, after watching Celtic inflict a first defeat on the Englishman as they beat Rangers 2-1 in Sunday’s Viaplay Cup semi-final at Hampden, Walker believes Ange Postecoglou’s team are ready to pull further clear at the summit.

“Ange Postecoglou is just used to winning and he wants to win with a bit of style,” pundit and former Celtic striker Walker told Sky Sports.

“You are right to highlight that nine-point gap, I think it will only get bigger.

“Celtic are on an astonishing run since they lost that game last September to St Mirren, who they play this weekend, but they bounced back so well from that defeat.

“They have got a nine-point gap and they have still got Rangers to play a couple of times in the league, home and away, and I can only see them adding to that lead.

“Obviously the Scottish Cup can go anywhere, as anyone can get a victory in any 90 minutes. I don’t think anyone will be mentioning it at Celtic, but they will certainly have their eye on yet another treble.”

Walker was surprised that Beale chose to start recently-recruited midfielders Todd Cantwell and Nicolas Raskin on the bench.

“These are the two players that were identified in the January window to make Rangers better, to make a difference and give them more quality and maybe to play a bit more football,” he added.

“The fact that they didn’t play was a bit surprising, but I think Michael Beale must realise he has not got the depth of squad and he’s not got the same quality that Celtic have.

“I’m sure these two players will play from now until the end of the season, but Rangers need strengthening in the summer. They’ve got a number of players out of contract, some who they would like to keep.

“It takes a lot of money to get the type of quality Celtic have and I am not convinced Rangers have that amount of money. I think Michael Beale will have to spend wisely and get value for money.”