Craig Gordon believes Celtic are well placed to claim a domestic treble this season but is wary of the threat posed to that ambition when they face Aberdeen for the first trophy of the campaign at Hampden on Sunday.
After their elimination from European competition was confirmed by Wednesday night’s 2-0 home defeat by Barcelona, the Scottish champions’ focus is now firmly on the eagerly-anticipated Betfred Cup final.
It provides Celtic with the opportunity to claim the 100th major honour of their history and represents the first leg of a potential domestic clean sweep for manager Brendan Rodgers in his first season in charge.
Rodgers has yet to taste defeat against Scottish opposition, having so far guided Celtic to a ten-point lead over closest challengers Aberdeen at the top of the Premiership table and led them to Sunday’s showpiece final without losing a goal in the revamped League Cup tournament.
Goalkeeper Gordon, who has not conceded a goal in eight domestic appearances since regaining his place in the side from Dorus de Vries in September, is cautiously hopeful Sunday can propel Celtic on their way to the club’s first treble for 16 years.
“We have this one this week and then we can take it from there,” he said. “But we have put ourselves in a good position up until now, so let’s see if we can win the first one. We’ll just keep going, that’s the manager’s message to us all the time. We want to be relentless to keep pushing towards what we’re trying to do. We’ll do that and see where it takes us.
“We’ve had such a good start to the season, everything has been so positive. But you want to win medals and this is our first chance to do that this season.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Aberdeen have made it difficult for us this season already albeit we’ve come out on top in both the league games so far. The game at Celtic Park was closer than the 4-1 scoreline suggested, then at Pittodrie we won by a single goal.
“So it’s going to be tight, we will need to play really well to win the game. But it’s one we’re looking forward to. We want to get the first silverware in the cabinet.”
Celtic will go from being underdogs against Barcelona to firm favourites against Aberdeen but Gordon knows the Pittodrie side will be confident of upsetting the odds.
“They have different attributes to Barcelona, they’re a different team,” added the Scotland international.
“We’re aware of the threat Aberdeen possess and we know what we’re up against. We’ll need to defend well at times because they can create chances.
“They are a threat so we need to make sure that we’re stopping that and trying to dictate the play.”
Celtic are sweating on the fitness of winger Scott Sinclair, who limped out of the Barcelona game with a hamstring injury, but Gordon does not believe the midweek exertions of his team will be a factor on Sunday.
“I don’t think it makes much difference that we’ve had a game on Wednesday night. I think Aberdeen would fancy their chances anyway,” he said.
“They’ll feel as though they’ve been close in a couple of games against us already this season.
“So I think they’ll come to Glasgow and give it a go. But we’ll go out looking to win it, regardless of who is fit and who isn’t.”