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Sir Kenny Dalglish: Kemar Roofe looks like he can be a match-winner – but Celtic just have to win Saturday’s showdown

© SNS GroupRoofe, seen celebrating one of his goals against Motherwell last Saturday, has become a big player for Rangers recently.
Roofe, seen celebrating one of his goals against Motherwell last Saturday, has become a big player for Rangers recently.

There is still a long way to go in the SPFL Premiership title race.

But not so long that Celtic can afford to drop many more points.

Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that Neil Lennon’s team MUST win at Ibrox on Saturday.

Even a draw in the first Old Firm showdown of 2021 would not be good enough.

And they may well also need to win the other two Glasgow derbies after that if they are to achieve their dream of 10-in-a-row.

Rangers have a lead just now that Steven Gerrard would have bitten your hand off for had you offered it to him back in August.

But they are not over the line. They have a lot of hard work ahead.

However, if they can emerge victorious next weekend, then they will have taken a huge step towards their first title in a decade.

They may well not look back.

Celtic must go into the game with the attitude that this is a Cup Final.

That’s what they played in last weekend, and they won a thrilling encounter on penalty-kicks against Hearts.

It was end-to-end stuff inside an empty Hampden, and both sides put on an absorbing 120 minutes for the TV audience.

Robbie Neilson’s men were one kick away from stopping Celtic’s run, but the Hoops held their nerve to get their quadruple Treble over the line.

To win 12 domestic trophies on the trot is one helluva achievement. To dominate Scottish football for four seasons is quite incredible.

But now it’s all about the next trophy, and another Premiership title is what Neil, the players and the fans all want.

To get that, they must start by being meaner in defence, and not give away so many avoidable goals. They need to be tighter and harder to break down.

The Celtic rearguard can look vulnerable when they are defending set-pieces in their own box.

Conversely, they are a huge threat when they are attacking corner-kicks in the opposition area.

For example, you see the goals Shane Duffy has scored with his head, and the likes of Christopher Julien also chipping in on the goals for column.

Yet, for all their height and presence, they also concede too many at their end. It’s baffling.

Rangers will do their homework before Saturday’s clash, and will be ready and prepared.

The fact they have won the last two league encounters against their biggest rivals will give them extra confidence and collective belief.

However, when Bobby Madden blows his whistle to start the game, that will count for nothing. And the fact they won at Parkhead so comfortably back in October counts not a jot.

It’s all about the next 90 minutes – not a game three months ago.

However, if Rangers have their main players on form, and they follow their tactical instructions from their manager, they will be hard to beat.

In the past few weeks, I have been very impressed with Kemar Roofe. He now looks as though he can be a match-winner.

He had a slow-ish start to his Ibrox career, and took time to find his feet. But he now looks to be an astute signing.

He impressed me when he played for Leeds United, and I actually see an improvement in him from his days at Elland Road.

When you think back to his wonder goal at Standard Liege in the Europa League, that must have given him huge confidence.

To have the ability to beat the keeper from inside his own half speaks absolute volumes for his footballing intelligence.

Saturday is the kind of game Kemar will be relishing, and he looks to be in a really good place just now.

The Celtic defenders will have their hands full against him.

It all makes for an intriguing fixture, and one I am really looking forward to.

I would imagine most people will have Rangers down as favourites to get the three points, but Celtic will not shy away from the challenge.

Neil Lennon will not be scared in any shape or form by travelling across the city for a huge game.

He needs his players to have the same mentality as him.

I’m sure Scott Brown will start this game, just as he did in the Cup Final last week, where he led by example.

David Turnbull also looks like a lad who is growing in confidence and stature. He really looks the part in a Celtic jersey.

He has the movement and ability to hurt Rangers.

All in all, as ever, the Old Firm clash is going to be a cracker.

It is hugely important, and will be a defining 90 minutes in the destination of the title.

Rangers don’t look like they are going to drop many points against other teams in the Premiership, so Celtic can’t rely on anyone doing them a favour.

They have to do it on their own, and that’s why they need to win this one – and kick on from there.

I can’t wait.