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Rangers and Celtic set for first Old Firm duel in September

By Andy Newport

New Rangers manager Steven Gerrard will go head to head with his former Liverpool mentor Brendan Rodgers just four games into the new Ladbrokes Premiership season.

Fixtures for the forthcoming campaign were released on Friday morning by the Scottish Professional Football League and handed rookie Ibrox boss Gerrard an early test of his coaching abilities as he takes his side to Celtic Park on the weekend of September 1.

His first taste of Old Firm action on home soil will be the traditional New Year clash, this year scheduled for December 29.

A second trip to Parkhead has been pencilled in for March 30, with all dates subject to change for television broadcast purposes. The fourth and final league meeting between the Glasgow giants will likely take place at Ibrox following the top-flight split.

Rodgers' team will unveil their seventh straight championship flag when they host newly-promoted Livingston on Saturday, August 4.

Fellow new boys St Mirren will toast last year's Championship triumph as they kick off their return to the top division against Dundee.

The opening day also sees last year's surprise package Kilmarnock taking on St Johnstone at home as Steve Clarke's side look to build on their impressive fifth-place finish.

Hibernian, who came so close to finishing second last term in their first season back in the Premiership, host a Motherwell side still buoyant following their run to both domestic cup competitions, while Craig Levein's new-look Hearts - bolstered by eight new summer signings already - start off with a trip to Hamilton.

Gerrard's Gers do not get their season under way until 24 hours later and have been handed another tough test with a trip to Aberdeen first up.

The Dons have beaten the Light Blues to second spot in each of the last two seasons and overtaking the Pittodrie outfit will be former Anfield and England skipper Gerrard's first challenge.

This year's first Edinburgh derby takes place at Tynecastle on the weekend of October 31 as Hearts look to redress the 'natural order' that saw Hibernian finish 18 points in front last term. Neil Lennon's team will get their first chance to host the Jambos in Leith on December 29.

Celtic close out their pre-split fixtures with a second visit by Livingston to Parkhead on April 6, with Rangers travelling to Fir Park to face Motherwell and Hearts again hosting Hibs in Gorgie.

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