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We must dig deep for every point in title bid: Rodgers

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers insists there has been nothing easy about Celtic's near-perfect record in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season. The league leaders welcome Inverness to Parkhead today and it still "rankles" with the Hoops boss that two points were dropped against the Highlanders in September when the hosts levelled late through Alex Fisher.

The 1-1 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday night leaves the Hoops with only slim chances of qualifying for the last 16, but Celtic are expected to continue their dominance on the domestic front, with a Betfred Cup final against Aberdeen to come later in the month.

However, Ulsterman Rodgers stressed that his side are having to work for their success on the home front. He said: "There is no easy game. There are many reasons why, firstly, the opponent will always fight.

"A game against Celtic, whatever the levels the players are at, the opponent will always go up because they are playing against one of the big teams.

"Supporters will demand that so there have been no easy games. There are some very good coaches up here who work and study and analyse their teams to set up against you.

"Some of the scorelines have been down to some of the great play of our players and how hard they have worked.

"Look at our last four games. The League Cup semi-final (against Rangers), tough game. Away to Ross County, travel, tough game. Away to Aberdeen, tough game, then away to Monchengladbach.

"You can put in lots of excuses but it really shows you the focus and concentration of the team, how hard they are working and how well they are playing."

The former Liverpool manager, however, would have liked an exemplary league record going into today's game.

He said: "It is still a game that rankles with me a little bit. We should have 10 (league wins) out of 10.

"We conceded late on, on the back end of the Barcelona trip.

"We put in a good performance that day, we just didn't take our chances and of course if you don't take the opportunities something like that can happen.

"I saw on the day that Inverness had some good players with good quality and they have started to play more football now, pass the ball a little bit, they scored some good goals last week against Hearts but will be disappointed with the goals they conceded.

"So it's not totally surprising Inverness got the result.

"But I am really happy with the way the players are improving, their hunger going into each game and for this game, the last one before the international break, we want to ensure that we have no slip-ups and have real intensity and attacking intent."

Meanwhile, Scottish football took a new direction with the official opening of Oriam sports performance centre in Edinburgh, according to Stewart Regan.

The Scottish Football Association chief executive believes the £33million facility at Heriot-Watt University will help develop young footballers and match officials.

The facility will also become a home to Scottish rugby and will also cater for other sports such as basketball, handball, squash and racketball. Regan confirmed that the senior national team will in time use the centre as a base.

He said: "What we will be doing is bringing our coaching, referee development and all of our national youth team activity and this is where we can hopefully develop our pipeline of talent that will eventually go on and play for Scotland."

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