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Celtic are still sharp, says Dembele


Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic striker Moussa Dembele says his side’s focus remains on winning with Hamilton due to visit on Wednesday despite dropping points in two of their past three Scottish Premiership outings.

The champions extended their record-breaking domestic unbeaten run to 68 games with a 2-2 draw with Hibernian on Sunday but came close to seeing it end as Hibs came close to a late winner after battling back from two goals down.

Celtic’s fifth draw of the season means they have already dropped more points than they did in the whole of the last campaign when they sealed a historic treble.

Brendan Rodgers’ side face a hectic festive schedule with six games over the next 17 days as the Scottish Premiership prepares to shut down for a three-week winter break.

– ‘Players who are brave’ –

Dembele is confident Celtic can shrug off any despondency from the weekend and return to winning ways.

“I’m expecting a tough game,” said Dembele.

“I think they’ll come to Celtic Park and try.

“The busy fixture schedule was the same for us last season as well. We are all fit and ready to compete in any game.

“Every team wants to beat us, but they always have and we are still unbeaten so we must have done something good.”

Rangers remain without a manager but closed to within five points of their bitter city rivals with a 2-1 win against Ross County on Saturday.

It was the first time they had won three games in a row in 2017 and they will look to extend that run when they travel to take on Hibs on Wednesday.

Interim manager Graeme Murty says his players must continue to show the resilience and character they produced in coming from behind to beat County at the weekend.

“You can’t always flow, dominate and dictate in the way we want to — and I don’t think we did against Ross County,” Murty said.

“Sometimes you have to scrap and grind a win out.

“Things aren’t always going to go our way, and we have to show a bit of resilience, which I think we did.

“We have to be strong enough to stand up and accept mistakes, but I want players who are brave and go and get on the ball even if the last thing they did didn’t work.”

Elsewhere, third-placed Aberdeen will attempt to keep pace with Rangers when they take on St Johnstone.

Fixtures (1945 unless otherwise stated)

Wednesday

Celtic v Hamilton, Hibernian v Rangers, Partick Thistle v Motherwell, St Johnstone v Aberdeen

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