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Rodgers says Celtic are feeling fresh despite Champions League defeat

Brendan Rodgers takes his side to Easter Road on the back of a disappointing result in the week

Rodgers says Celtic are feeling fresh despite Champions League defeat

Brendan Rodgers expects a positive response from his players after a bittersweet defeat against Anderlecht on Tuesday.

The 1-0 loss at Parkhead saw the Hoops achieve their goal of qualifying for European football after Christmas in the shape of the Europa League, but they were disappointing on the night.

Rodgers was critical of his side’s performance following the defeat – which saw them cling on to a creditable third-placed finish in a Champions League group also containing Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich – and expects his players to respond well against Hibernian on Sunday.

It will be the third time the two sides have met this season, with both previous matches coming immediately after a European clash.

Jozo Simunovic's own goal cost Celtic three points but they still qualified ahead of Anderlecht
Jozo Simunovic’s own goal cost Celtic three points but they still qualified ahead of Anderlecht (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Rodgers is confident his players will be able to put aside the disappointment of Tuesday in time for the trip to Easter Road.

When asked if he expected a positive reaction, the former Liverpool and Swansea boss responded: “We’ve always had it.

“After Champions League results – good or bad it doesn’t matter – we always go into the next game with a real freshness and energy to get a good result.

“Our overriding emotion is that it wasn’t the most desirable result during the week in order to get to where we want to get to – which is the Europa League – but we got there.

“I have a brilliant group of players who are very honest and we know where we’re at in terms of modern football.”

Celtic travel to Edinburgh to face a Hibs side who have gone as close as any to ending their long unbeaten run domestically in a 2-2 draw at Celtic Park earlier this season.

Despite a punishing schedule which has seen his side play Motherwell three times in a week before the Champions League tie, Rodgers is looking forward to his first game at Easter Road.

“I’m really looking forward to going there,” he said. “On Tuesday night we played our fourth game in nine days and they were all very physically taxing games.

Celtic v Hibernian – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Hibernian manager Neil Lennon will be in opposite dugouts again this weekend (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

“The only benefit going into this Sunday is we’ve had a bit of extra preparation time to recover physically and prepare tactically.

“I went to Hibs last year and thought the atmosphere was brilliant. Neil (Lennon) has done an outstanding job there and Easter Road is always going to be a tough game.”

He added: “The two games we’ve played against them this season have been tough but we go into it with the confidence that if we play to our levels, it gives us a good chance.”

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