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Rangers v Celtic: Hampden will suit us

Brendan Rodgers enjoyed a 5-1 win over Rangers last month

Rodgers enjoyed a 5-1 win over Rangers last month

Manager Brendan Rodgers is sure Celtic can exploit the wide open spaces of Hampden when they meet Rangers in Sunday’s League Cup semi-final.

“I’m really looking forward to it – the home of Scottish football,” said Rodgers ahead of his maiden visit.

“I hear the pitch is good, a nice big pitch suits the speed in our team and our intensity.

“The technical area goes right out to the end of the pitch, but you might need a taxi to get back to your staff.”

This will be Rodgers’ second taste of the Old Firm derby and his experience of the fixture got off to a great start with a 5-1 league victory at Celtic Park last month.

“It was a brilliant performance by the players in every aspect,” he recalled. “Obviously this one is on a neutral ground, but we’ll be looking to have a similar performance.

“We’ll be prepared and focused. We know it’s going to be a tough game. We anticipated that the last time.”

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Rodgers’ Liverpool lost their FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa in 2015

Rodgers is also aware Celtic’s visit to Hampden last season in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers ended in defeat.

“The last experience there wasn’t so good for Celtic,” he said. “But it’s a different team with a different mentality and we’ll look to take that mentality into the game.”

Rodgers lost two semi-finals in his time at Liverpool and is aiming to make it third time lucky at the club he joined in the summer.

“You have to perform – that’s what’s important and if you get little bit of luck along the way then hopefully you’ll get the result that you want.” said the Northern Irishman.

“So, for us, it’s really looking at our performance level, which in the main has been at a really high level.

“My focus is always on my own team and, if we impose our style of play, it can give a lot of problems to opponents.”

Unlike predecessor Ronny Deila, Rodgers would not be drawn on this semi-final being a step on the way to a potential domestic treble.

“It’s very, very difficult to achieve,” he said. “There’s been great managers here in the past that haven’t achieved that.

“But it’s the first competition where we’ve a chance to win a trophy and I’ve always said that it’s a priority for us because it’s the first one.

“Our idea was to qualify for the Champions League, which we did, to make a good start in the league, which we’ve done, and then look to get to the League Cup final.

“Unless you can do that then you don’t have the chance to win the trophies.”