Rodgers urges Celtic to 'stay calm' amid title pressure

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers (ANDY BUCHANAN)
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers (ANDY BUCHANAN)

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has urged the Scottish Premiership leaders to stay calm as the pressure mounts in a tense title race.

Rodgers' side were seven points ahead of Rangers earlier this season, but the Ibrox club have clawed their way back into contention despite losing against Celtic on December 30.

Second placed Rangers are three points behind champions Celtic with a game in hand.

The Hoops will travel to Hibernian on Wednesday in second place if Rangers beat Aberdeen by three goals later on Tuesday.

Despite the fraught situation at the top, Rodgers wants his players to keep their composure.

"I never set out this season thinking you are going to win a league by 10 or 20 points," Rodgers told reporters on Tuesday.

"Clearly, the competition is there and it will be tight, I'm pretty sure, through to the end of the season.

"We have the capacity to play well and win these big games but I think it demonstrates a wee bit about where the team is at and how young some of the team is because we haven't been able to string it together for longer periods.

"The key is you just stay calm. I see the players train every day and I know we will have one or two players coming back and we will just continue to focus on that performance level."

Rodgers believes the pressure can bring out the best in Celtic as the tension mounts heading towards the latter stages of the season.

"The expectation is one of the huge things here at Celtic, whether you are players or manager," he said.

"There's stronger leagues out there in Europe but when you play and manage Celtic, it's a real test of your mental fortitude as a person, dealing with expectation, dealing with pressure.

"There's not too many teams around Europe where you'll have four points out of six and it's crisis mode again.

"But I always think, while it can feel like that, that's the catalyst where you can continually improve."