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Saturday 16 December 2017

Rodgers: 'Celtic ready for 'Well aggression in final'

Betfred Cup final Celtic v Motherwell - Live tomorrow BT Sports - Kick-off 3.0pm

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters

Brendan Rodgers has vowed his Celtic side will be ready for whatever Motherwell throw at them in the Betfred Cup final.

Rangers defender Bruno Alves claimed after losing to Motherwell in the semi-final that the Lanarkshire side had over-stepped the mark physically, although he was later banned for two games for kicking double goalscorer Louis Moult.

Rodgers himself raised concerns after Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman and Rangers defender Fabio Cardoso went unpunished for aerial challenges which caused injuries - the latter suffered a broken nose - and the Celtic boss discussed the game with the Scottish Referees’ Association.

But Rodgers believes his men will be prepared for the threat they face from Stephen Robinson’s side tomorrow and match their determination.

“We are an aggressive team,” said Rodgers, who has fitness doubts over Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton. “You want that level of commitment. You always want the officials to respect the laws of the game and make sure no player is in danger within the game, but you want the competitiveness and I’m sure that’s how it will be.

“And we have shown many times here playing in the league and the cups, we have played against many styles - aggressive styles, footballing teams, mixed teams - and the players have coped very well with it. When you go into any final you have to be ready mentally for whatever the opponent throws at you and that’s something that we will be prepared for.”

Robinson defended Bowman after Rodgers’ earlier comments and phoned his fellow Northern Irishman to address the situation. “We spoke a few days after it,” the Celtic manager said. “It was a good conversation.

“Stephen has done brilliantly since he has gone in there. The players have great enthusiasm and have picked up some really good results. Stephen has them very well organised and they are very motivated. They play different systems and play them well.

“So we expect a very tough game but every domestic game we have had has been that in a different way and we have faced various styles. We look to bring our experience, our quality and certainly bring our level of game that we’ve played at Hampden on a nice, huge pitch, with three-quarters of the stadium full of Celtic supporters.

“We respect they are a team who will fight, who will run and they have a player up front who can score goals in Louis Moult. Some of his finishes have been fantastic. So it should be a really, really good game.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers brushed off criticism of his approach following Celtic’s 7-1 Champions League defeat at Paris St Germain on Wednesday.

“I have to be honest, I haven’t seen one word of it,” he said. “I learn to listen less to what people will say and really just focus on what we are trying to do over the long term.”

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