Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic in stronger position than the reverse fixture with St Mirren

Brendan Rodgers believes his Celtic side go into the St Mirren game on Wednesday night in better shape than when they dropped two valuable Ladbrokes Premiership points to the Saints earlier in the season.

Oran Kearney’s first game as Buddies boss saw them hold the 10-man reigning champions to a shock goalless draw in Paisley on September 14.

Celtic trailed leaders Hearts at the time but go into the match against second-bottom St Mirren top of the table over Rangers on goal difference and with a game in hand, while having beat Airdrionians 3-0 on Saturday to secure a place in the next round of the William Hill Scottish Cup where they will meet St Johnstone.

The Northern Irishman said: “We dominated the game earlier in the season but we weren’t so much of a goal threat, I didn’t think.

“We obviously lost Olivier Ntcham in the opening part of the game but even with 10 men we had a lot of possession.

“But the team is in a different place now in terms of the quality of our game and the level and what the players have become very good at over these last few seasons is looking to cope and deal with teams that sit in deep.

“We seen it at the weekend.

“They are never easy those games when teams are sitting in a really low block whilst you are trying to get the crowd up with your intensity and tempo.

“But the players have coped with that very well.

“We expect a similar game. I am sure Oran will have his team really compact and tight, looking to play on the counter and look to keep it as tight as long as they can.

“We will prepare for a tough game.

“We started back well at the weekend and we want to continue with that.”

Rodgers does hope to see improvement on the costly Parkhead pitch which looked in distress for the cup game at the weekend.

The former Liverpool boss said: “It is something unfortunate, nothing that the groundstaff could have done.

“A slight disease in the surface which has just been unfortunate.

“We have a great team of groundstaff, they work very hard.

“We obviously had a new pitch laid last year which has helped our game but the guys are working very hard to make that right.

“But of course it is very difficult when you have a spell of games on it but I am sure it will get back to the level we would hope it would be at.”

Rodgers hopes left-back Kieran Tierney, out since December with a hip injury, will get back to training “in the next few weeks but in the meantime he is working with the medical team.”

Midfielder Olivier Ntcham, out with a hamstring problem, should be back at “some point after next weekend” while the paperwork  is still to be completed for new signing Vakoun Issouf Bayo.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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