Rodgers: Celtic can ramp up pressure on Rangers by beating Hearts

Celtic can open up a six point gap at the top of the table if they beat Hearts on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers insists Celtic can use the fact they play before Rangers this weekend to ramp up pressure on their title rivals by beating Hearts and increasing the gap at the top of the Premiership.

The league leaders have a chance to move six points clear of Philippe Clement’s side when they play the Tynecastle club in Glasgow on Saturday.

Rangers won’t be in action until Sunday when they host Kilmarnock at Ibrox and the Celtic manager, who was named manager of the month for April, says a result for his side could “add extra weight” with it being so close to the season’s conclusion.

When asked if playing first this weekend could be an advantage, Rodgers, who won three league titles in his last spell in Scotland, said: “Listen I could sit here and lie and say no, but scoreboard pressure is always there, and it doesn’t count for nothing.

“I think if you are playing second, of course, you’ll know the other teams result, primarily you have to focus on yourselves, but it can certainly add weight, particularly at this point of the season.”

With four games remaining, Celtic will have three at home in front of their own fans and Rodgers believes that could also be a big advantage for them.

He said: “The fans will play a huge part, I think that has been the difference over the last few months, everything has been connected.

“That support they give to the team is unrivalled, when everyone is on the same side and they are with us, so to have that and three of the last four games at home will be special.”

The Celtic manager also revealed that Daizen Maeda would be back in the squad for their game against Steven Naismith’s side.

It was initially feared that the Japan forward would miss the rest of the reason, but he has recovered quicker than expected and will be in contention for a starting place this weekend.

Rodgers said: “He will come into the squad. It’s great news for us, thinking he was not going to be available initially, but he has recovered remarkably well and I think we all see he is a specimen physically. He has got back and it’s brilliant news for us.”

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