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Celtic: Brendan Rodgers believes Rangers will make them a better team

The Celtic boss expects his players to respond after dropping points last time out; Daizen Maeda is back for the trip to Easter Road; watch Hibs vs Celtic on Wednesday night live on Sky Sports, kick-off 8pm

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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes they will be a better team as Rangers provide a real challenge in the title race

Brendan Rodgers is welcoming the challenge from an "improved" Rangers as he insisted the competition will make Celtic better.

Philippe Clement has breathed new life into the title race since taking over at Ibrox and his side are now level on points with Celtic, after a 2-1 win over Aberdeen on Tuesday.

It has been a 10-point swing since October and the Hoops - who drew at Aberdeen on Saturday after a frustrating transfer window - now visit Hibernian on Wednesday night live on Sky Sports.


Rodgers, however, remains fully focused on what his side need to do if they are to retain the title.

"When you win any league you have to earn the right, but I also think that competition makes you better," he told Sky Sports News.

"I spent enough years in the Premier League and I could see the improvements that Man City could make because of the challenges they had around them.

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Celtic drew with Aberdeen in their last game

"It's no different in any of the leagues, competition is the catalyst to improve and be better, there's no doubt Rangers have done that but primarily our focus is on ourselves and improving our own performance.

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"It's about for us the next game and our next game is against Hibs, which will be a good challenge for us.

"There are still so many games left. We've obviously dropped points and it's not satisfying, but knowing that we maybe haven't been as consistent as what we would have liked, but are still in a really good position.

"There are lots of points to play for and the best team will win the league over the course of 38 games."

Celtic fans has a message for the board after a quite transfer window
Image: Celtic fans has a message for the board after a quite transfer window

Celtic made two January signings with Nicolas Kuhn joining on a five-and-a-half-year deal and Adam Idah moving on loan from Norwich on deadline day.

The players ran out to chants of "sack the board" and a banner that read "Celtic board, on your heads be it" at Pittodrie as the fans expressed their displeasure over the club's transfer window business.

Rodgers understands their frustration.

"Clearly you'd prefer everyone being together but supporters are entitled to make their opinion and always will be, especially the demands of this football club," he added.

"All I can concentrate on is making sure the players have that clarity when they go into the games so we don't focus so much on the mistakes, we look at how we could be better."

Daizen Maeda is back for Celtic's trip to Hibs
Image: Daizen Maeda is back for Celtic's trip to Hibs

Daizen Maeda is available for Wednesday's game at Easter Road after returning from the Asian Cup.

He made two substitute appearances for Japan before starting in Saturday's quarter-final defeat by Iran, playing the first 67 minutes, and Rodgers feels the attacker is up to speed after his international duties.

"Daizen Maeda is back, which is great news, and fit and healthy," Rodgers said.

"He is actually in a better place now than he was when he left because he was still trying to get up to speed.

"He has gone away, trained, played some games. I spoke to him when he did come back and he feels ready to start if we need him."

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