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Philippe Clement believes his Rangers players face a gladiatorial challenge when they travel to Celtic Park on Saturday lunchtime.

The 60,000-capacity stadium will be full only with Hoops fans for the final Old Firm cinch Premiership game of the season.

With just three fixtures remaining, Celtic lead Rangers at the top of the table by three points and are five goals better off, and the Belgian boss summed up the task in hand by evoking the experiences of armed combatants from the Roman Empire.

“Yes, they need to grab that moment. We need to grab that moment together and put all our energy in that, and that is the nice thing about sport, about competition,” said Clement, who revealed defender Leon Balogun is “doubtful” and will be assessed.

“I think football is maybe a little bit like the gladiators of the modern age. In the old times you had the gladiators there in a stadium full of people shouting and booing and putting their thumb up or thumb down. I think we are now in that situation.

“The good thing is people don’t kill us, we are not dead afterwards. Maybe verbally, yes, but not in real life and that is a positive that we always have another go in the stadium again.

“That’s how society works now and players have to be ready for that.

“It is also an exciting thing because the more passion people have for their teams, the more support you have also.

“It works both ways. They need to grab this moment to be really good gladiators tomorrow in the Colosseum.”

Rangers v Livingston – cinch Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
Leon Balogun is an injury doubt for Rangers (Steve Welsh/PA)

When it was suggested that the match was a must-win for his side, Clement said: “I don’t totally agree with that.

“If you have a draw there you can still become champions. Even if you lose, that it is a really long-shot and too much of a long-shot for me, but with the point also.

“But we go full for the three points. Clear, very, very clear. Doing that we can make an incredible comeback and make a really big statement also.”

While Celtic have two wins and a draw from three previous Old Firm games in the league this season – and Parkhead is a notoriously difficult venue for Rangers –  Clement insists he has had to do “zero” work on instilling belief into his side this week.

He said: “I don’t think I have to put belief in my team this week. I feel they are hungry and have the desire to show themselves as a team, not as an individual.

“For sure the belief is here and that’s not the work of one day or a few days before a game. It is confirmation of what they have been doing for months.

“All these things are really positive things.”