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Celtic’s Rodgers backs ‘big-game player’ Dembele to halt Rangers’ title ambition

7:46 AM EST 3/7/18
Moussa Dembele Brendan Rodgers Celtic
The young striker was a constant threat to the Bears last term and his gaffer is upbeat that he can re-enact the form on Sunday

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is backing ‘big-game player’ Moussa Dembele to halt Rangers' title ambition when they meet in Sunday's Scottish Premier League encounter.

Dembele has notched 12 goals this term, including his brace on Saturday against Greenock Morton in a cup outing, despite struggling with a hamstring injury at the beginning of the season.

The Bhoys are just six points above second-placed Rangers on the table and the Northern Irish tactician is confident that the 21-year-old, who scored five goals against the Ibrox Stadium outfit last term, would help to extend the gap as they aim to halt the title ambition of Graeme Murty’s men.

“I think he is a big-game player, Moussa,” Rodgers told Daily Mail.

“The players need to do it at Celtic in every game. But certainly, in those big games, he has always come up trumps and shown his qualities.”

The striker was linked with several European clubs during the January transfer window, with English Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion coming close to securing the signature of the former Fulham player.

“I think the background noise has gone. That's absolutely key for any player,” Rodgers continued.

“I think what you see is a young player free now in his mind to focus on his strengths. When he is that he is a real handful.

“He was terrific in the game here against Zenit. In the game over there he played very well when the team, collectively, was not at its best.

“Against Aberdeen, he showed his power. And now he is just moving as I would expect.

“You have to work really, really hard. You have to have an intensity and we see that in his game now.

“He is using his strength, his power and is a top-class young striker.”