Rodgers confident 'best version' of Celtic side is ready for Rangers

The Celtic boss says his team are in a good place ahead of the crucial derby.

Brendan Rodgers confident ‘best version’ of Celtic side is ready for Rangers SNS Group

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers believes Rangers will see “the best version” of his side when the teams clash on Saturday in their crucial Premiership derby.

Three points separate league leaders and defending champions Celtic from their Glasgow rivals, with three games left to play, meaning the match at Parkhead will have a major say in where the trophy ends up this season.

Rodgers returned to the club last summer to succeed Ange Postecoglou and has guided the team through some difficult spells but the 3-0 win over Hearts last weekend showed a side that’s now firing on all cylinders and the manager believes they go into the derby in good shape.

“I don’t think there is any doubt, we’ll arrive into this weekend’s game and this will probably be the best version of the team that I’ve had since I’ve been here (this season),” he told Celtic TV.

“When I look at the number of injuries we’ve had right the way though, and the disruptions, it felt like last weekend was about there, virtually, in terms of player availability and where the team is at, and in terms of fitness as well.

“So I think after another good week of work and concentration on the training field, we’ll arrive into Saturday in as good a place as we’ll have been all season.”

Rodgers had irked Rangers boss Philippe Clement last weekend with a comment that his team would look to “have some fun” in the derby but as he talked about the work leading up to this game, he stressed respect for the opponent but a focus on his team playing their own game.

“The preparation is very much based around ourselves, always respecting the opponent and what they might bring to the game, but then looking at how we play and, ultimately, our process in the game,” he said.

The Northern Irishman believes home advantage will be important and that playing in front of their fans will be “crucial”.

“The crowd in the Hearts game was brilliant for us,” Rodgers said. “Their importance at this stage of the season and really getting behind the football aspect of the club and the team.

“We saw that emotion just roll down out of the stands and go onto the pitch.

“You see what it gives the players and how they respond to that. We need that exactly the same at the weekend and I know we will get that because I think the supporters are happy with what they are seeing now in the team.

“It should be a great occasion and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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