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Celtic 'ready' to increase heat on Rangers

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26 Nov 2011 03:46:42

Celtic 'ready' to increase heat on Rangers

Gary Hooper is confident Celtic have turned the corner after a stuttering start to the season.

The Celtic striker was on the score-sheet on Wednesday as the Hoops closed the gap on league leaders Rangers to seven points with a 2-1 win over Dunfermline.

After three defeats in their opening 10 games of the season, the Hoops have now won their past four matches.

Now Neil Lennon's side have the chance to reduce the deficit further and put the pressure on their rivals with a win against St Mirren on Saturday, 24 hours before the Gers take on Kilmarnock on Sunday.

And English striker Hooper wants the momentum his side has built up to continue in their upcoming games.

"We have won four games in a row now," said Hooper. "We need to get the fifth on Saturday, in what is another big game against St Mirren, who are a good side. No matter how we do it, we have to win every game.

"We have turned the corner and are playing really well. Wednesday night was another big win in our game in hand and now we can make the gap four points on Saturday.

"The first-half performance was brilliant and we had the chances to see the game out then.

"I can't explain it, maybe missing the penalty changed the game a bit, they got on top and got the goal but we held out and got the three points."

Lennon will be without Scott Brown, Emilio Izaguirre, Cha Du-Ri, Mark Wilson and Charlie Mulgrew for the game against fourth-placed St Mirren, whose manager, Danny Lennon, signed a two-year contract extension this week.

Ally McCoist's Rangers have won seven out of seven away from home and will be happy to be on the road again after last week's disappointing draw with St Johnstone at Ibrox.

The Rangers manager boosted his squad this week after signing Sone Aluko and the former Aberdeen winger could make his debut in the match against Killie.

First team coach Ian Durrant was delighted with the capture of Nigerian international Aluko, who will add to the Rangers forward line after Steven Naismith was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

"He can play on the left and he can play through the middle," said Durrant of Aluko.

"He has also been in the SPL for a few years with Aberdeen so he brings a bit of experience to the team for such a young lad.

"It's well known with Steven being out that we're short up front and Sone can play in a variety of positions."

Elsewhere on Saturday, second-bottom Aberdeen have the chance to move up the table as they take on their nearest rivals Dunfermline at East End Park.

Hearts, without a win in four games, take on bottom club Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Tynecastle, while third-placed Motherwell face Dundee United at Fir Park.

After their impressive draw with Rangers at Ibrox last week, St Johnstone take on struggling Hibernian at McDiarmid Park.

Fixtures (1500GMT unless otherwise stated)

Saturday:

Celtic v Dunfermline, Dunfermline v Aberdeen, Hearts v Inverness CT, Motherwell v Dundee United, St Johnstone v Hibernian

Sunday:

Kilmarnock v Rangers (1245GMT)


AFP

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