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SPFL Fixtures: Celtic open Premiership title defence against Hearts, Old Firm and Edinburgh derby dates released

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (SNS Group)
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (SNS Group)

BRENDAN RODGERS’ rampant Celtic squad will kick-off their quest for a seventh straight Scottish Premiership title against Hearts on Saturday, August 5.

The Parkhead champions completed an astonishing 47 domestic games without defeat last season as they wrapped up a treble clean sweep.

And they will now set about extending their incredible run when the Jambos visit Parkhead for the traditional flag raising ceremony as the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership season gets under way.

Pedro Caixinha’s new-look Rangers line-up open their campaign away to Motherwell on the same date, although the fixtures announced by the Scottish Professional Football League on Friday morning could yet be switched for TV coverage.

And the Ibrox faithful – buoyed by eight new arrivals already this summer and news of a peace deal struck between chairman Dave King and Mike Ashley – will be keen to see how their side fares against their Old Firm rivals when the Hoops arrive in Govan on Saturday, September 23 for the first derby clash of the new term.

Gers suffered two humiliating 5-1 drubbings at the hand of their bitter foes last term and will be hoping Caixinha’s recruitment drive has closed the gap significantly.

The big two are pencilled in to face off again at Celtic Park on Saturday, December 30 before returning to Ibrox for the season’s third showdown on Saturday, March 10. The final Parkhead clash of the campaign is expected to take place after the top-flight split.

Aberdeen, who split the Glasgow pair last season as they finished second, are also in positive mood after managing to fight off Sunderland’s interest in boss Derek McInnes.

The Dons manager has lost five of his key men from last year but hopes to have quality replacements in place by the time his Pittodrie side get their season under way with their opening day home clash with Hamilton.

Hibernian – back in the top division after a three-year absence – will hoist the Championship flag when they get started against Partick Thistle at Easter Road before heading to Ibrox to face Rangers a week later on the weekend of August 12.

That fixture is certain to be packed with spice following the controversial scenes that followed the capital club’s 2016 William Hill Scottish Cup final triumph over Gers.

Neil Lennon’s Leith outfit will also host the first Edinburgh derby duel of the new campaign on Wednesday, October 25.

Tommy Wright’s St Johnstone will look to keep their six-year run of top-half finishes going when they kick-off away to Kilmarnock on August 5, while Dundee host Ross County in the opening day’s other fixture.

Hearts play their first game at home on August 12 when they host Kilmarnock but eager Gorgie supporters will have to wait until their clash with Aberdeen on September 9 to see Tynecastle’s new £12million main stand unveiled.