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Five talking points ahead of Rangers and Celtic's Premiership clash

The sides meet at Ibrox for the third Old Firm derby of the season.

Five talking points ahead of Rangers and Celtic’s Premiership clash SNS Group

Rangers and Celtic meet at Ibrox on Sunday for the third time this season with each side on one win apiece.

The cinch Premiership clash will be the first in a trilogy of meetings in the coming weeks with the sides scheduled to clash at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi-finals on April 17 before their final league encounter.

Here are the key talking points ahead of Sunday’s noon kick-off.

Advantage Celtic

The Hoops are 14 goals better off as well as boasting a three-point lead ahead of their final trip to Ibrox this season. With Rangers having the added workload of a Europa League campaign, Sunday’s game could be a crucial opportunity for them to make inroads on Celtic’s lead with only six more league games to follow. The game also offers Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players a shot at redemption after the Dutchman’s first derby in charge ended in a 3-0 defeat.

No Alfredo

Alfredo Morelos has been a key player in Rangers' successes this season. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)SNS Group

Rangers were dealt a massive blow when Alfredo Morelos was ruled out for several weeks with a thigh injury. The Colombia striker rediscovered his best form after van Bronckhorst took over in November and has scored 18 goals this season. The injury could pave the way for Kemar Roofe to find favour. The former Leeds man has only started one league game under the new manager – the 3-0 loss at Parkhead. Roofe has still weighed in with 13 goals this season including a recent winner against Aberdeen, while another centre-forward candidate, Fashion Sakala, has 10.

All go for Kyogo

Kyogo Furuhashi made an instant impact in Scottish football after arriving from Japan. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)SNS Group

Celtic fans have had contrasting injury news this week with Japan forward Kyogo Furuhashi, the team’s talisman in the first half of the season, available again following a three-month absence with a hamstring injury. Giorgos Giakoumakis has excelled in his absence with 11 goals in 2022 but the sight of Furuhashi potentially coming off the bench at Ibrox could be a key psychological factor in the game. Celtic only have James Forrest missing through injury.

Away fans are back

There will be visiting supporters at the fixture for the first time since December 2019 with about 700 Celtic fans set to occupy one corner of Ibrox. The allocation is a far cry from the traditions of around 7,500 travelling fans adding to the atmosphere at both Celtic Park and Ibrox, but it at least provides some different colour following restrictions which started with the pandemic.

First goal’s the winner?

Reo Hatate put Celtioc ahead after just five minutes in the last Old Firm game. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The team who have opened the scoring have won 15 of the past 16 derbies – there has only been one draw in four seasons. The last time either side came from behind to triumph was when Celtic won 3-2 at Ibrox in March 2018 after Josh Windass netted in the third minute for the hosts.