Scottish League Defeat not a disaster for Celtic, says captain Brown

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Scott Brown has been Celtic's captain since 2010 play

Scott Brown has been Celtic's captain since 2010

(AFP/File)

Celtic captain Scott Brown admits it would not be a disaster if his side lost to Rangers in the Old Firm derby on Saturday.

The Hoops have a massive 16-point lead over the Gers going into the New Year's Eve showdown at Ibrox and still have a game in hand over their rivals.

Celtic are unbeaten in 23 domestic games under Brendan Rodgers and are aiming to cap off a remarkable first half of the season with victory at Ibrox, which would be their 15th consecutive win in the league.

"We've got to try and continue our undefeated run for as long as we possibly can, but it wouldn't be the end of the world," Brown said when asked if a defeat would take the shine off Celtic's start to the season.

"We are a few points clear and we've got to go there and enjoy the occasion."

It has been four years since a Celtic side visited Ibrox on league duty after Rangers' financial meltdown in 2012 resulted in them being forced to start again in the lower leagues of Scottish football.

Celtic thrashed Rangers 5-1 at Celtic Park back in August, but Brown expects a sterner challenge on the Gers' home territory.

"It's always going to be hard going to Ibrox, no matter how many points you are clear or if you're chasing," the Celtic captain said.

"It's always a hard place to go, but we have to go there and believe in our own ability and try to play our own game.

"There's lots of pressure on them. We're a few points clear, but you still want to go there and get the three points and have a good performance."

Brown has been warned against complacency by Celtic legend Murdo MacLeod, who won five league titles, two Scottish Cups and one League Cup in his nine years at Celtic from 1978 to 1987.

No incentive needed

MacLeod then returned as assistant manager to Wim Jansen in the 1997-98 season to help Celtic stop Rangers winning a 10th title in a row.

"Celtic may be the favourites just now, but such are the nature of Old Firm games that you never underestimate the opposition," MacLeod told AFP.

"It's always going to be tough when you go to Ibrox, especially for the Celtic team this week. They'll be looking at this game knowing fine well that they're on a fantastic run of victories right now.

"But anything can happen on Saturday. If they can get all three points, it lets everyone know how strong they are."

Rangers had been in their best form of the season with four successive wins before they were held to a 1-1 draw by St Johnstone on Wednesday.

It saw them fall even further behind Celtic, who look well on course to claiming a sixth consecutive title.

But Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn says he and his team-mates do not need any extra motivation for an Old Firm derby.

"I don't think you need an incentive. You're going into one of the biggest derbies there is in football and if you're not motivated by playing the game itself, you've got an issue," Waghorn said.

"It's the biggest game in Scottish football. Everyone wants to play in it, everyone wants to be part of it and everyone wants to stand out in it."

Wednesday's match in Perth once again highlighted Rangers' vulnerability at the back and manager Mark Warburton faces a selection headache in defence with Clint Hill joining skipper Lee Wallace on the treatment tables.

Australian international Tom Rogic will miss out for Celtic as he has failed to recover from an ankle knock in time.

Fixtures

Friday (1945 GMT):

Hearts v Aberdeen

Saturday (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated):

Rangers v Celtic (1215 GMT), Hamilton v Motherwell (1300 GMT), Dundee v St Johnstone, Partick Thistle v Kilmarnock, Ross County v Inverness CT (1500 GMT)

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