Aberdeen will be closest challengers to Celtic - Scott Brown

Scott Brown believes Aberdeen will be poised to run Celtic close again for the title. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Scott Brown believes Aberdeen will be poised to run Celtic close again for the title. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Celtic captain Scott Brown claims Aberdeen will be the biggest threat to their title defence this season.

The Hoops are going for their sixth consecutive title and have a new challenge in the form of a rejuvenated Rangers following their four-year journey through the lower leagues.

But Brown cited the Dons and Hearts as the ones to watch out for ahead of his side’s opening Ladbrokes Premiership game at Tynecastle on Sunday.

When asked to pick one team who would be Celtic’s biggest challengers, Brown told Sky Sports News HQ: “I think Aberdeen after the last couple of seasons. They have been exciting to watch, they have come to Celtic Park and got points and we have struggled up there. So hopefully we can do a little bit better this season.”

When asked how he thought Rangers would fare, the midfielder said: “We’ll see that when it comes, that’s the fifth game of the season so we have got a few before that and, as I said, Aberdeen have been great the last couple of years and so have Hearts after coming back up last season.”

On that September 10 derby at Celtic Park, Brown added: “It will be good. It’s always good, a Rangers-Celtic game, especially with the atmosphere. But there’s lots of huge games coming up for us and that’s way down the line.”

The immediate priority is the second leg of the Champions League third qualifying round on Wednesday.

A late goal from Leigh Griffiths saw Celtic return from Kazakhstan last week with a 1-1 draw against Astana.

“We went over there and got the away goal,” Brown said. “That’s always going to help us. We played well on the day and maybe could have sneaked another one.

“But it’s going to be a great atmosphere back at Celtic Park and we’re looking forward to the game.”

Brown believes Celtic’s early European exertions will give his team an edge as they begin their league campaign.

He added: “Last season was a little bit disappointing overall but we still got the job done.

“This season we have started off well in the Champions League qualifiers and hopefully we will push that into the league.

“This is always the priority. It’s huge for us to try to get six in a row. We fought well last season and deserved it after a long hard season.”

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