Kyle Bartley and his team-mates might be better advised to concentrate on finding a way to stop Gary Hooper, but the on-loan Rangers player has spoken about a desire to target Scott Brown after the Celtic skipper's antics in their first Scottish Cup game at Ibrox last month.
Hooper himself cannot deny that Brown is now a marked man but might be secretly delighted if the focus of attention is on his team-mate, who, Bartley revealed last week, is "not liked" by many Rangers players. Hooper was man of the match ten days ago as Celtic swept past their rivals in the league fixture to give Ibrox manager Walter Smith a reason to consider employing the five-man defence that has proved so effective in Europe, as the Old Firm rivals lock horns again tonight.
Whatever the outcome, it seems inevitable that Brown will be in the thick of it again as he re-commences his running battle with El-Hadji Diouf, whom he mocked after scoring the equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox at the beginning of last month.
"He's going to be a target all over the place, I think, (after] the way he celebrated," said Hooper. "I thought there was nothing wrong with it, but the Rangers fans didn't like it, or the Rangers players. He is big enough and strong enough to deal with it. Basically, he shouldn't really get involved in case he gets sent off."
Although Celtic survived a red card to goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the first game, the energy and courage which saw them strike an equaliser - through Brown - would be hard to summon up again. Neil Lennon's side showed what they can do when at the top of their game in the league fixture at Parkhead last Sunday, with Hooper a particular menace.
Celtic v Rangers coverage in full
• The Old Firm story so far this season in pictures
• Neil Lennon fired up for 'blood and thunder' in cup replay
• Manner of loss at Celtic Park was lowest of low points for Ally McCoist
• Dangerman Gary Hooper tells Scott Brown to cool it
• Old Firm's mixed feelings on early start to next season
• Fanzone: Celtic
• Fanzone: Rangers
The English forward scored twice and might have had a hat-trick as he feasted on the wing play of Kris Commons and Emilio Izaguirre. His first goal was reckoned to signify more than just Celtic's growing ascendancy after a cagey start. It was also interpreted by some as the last post for David Weir's magnificent career. The centre-half was left for dead by Hooper, who took a touch before slipping the ball under goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
However, Hooper yesterday suggested that the piece of trickery would have out-foxed any defender, no matter what age. He had certainly not seen Weir out of the corner of the eye and decided then and there to employ a move which relied so much on his fast feet. "I didn't know who was there," Hooper recalled. "I just took a touch in and then put it under the keeper. I definitely don't think it was about David Weir or his pace. I thought it was a good touch, yeah."
Hooper is looking forward to playing under the floodlights and admits the Old Firm clashes have an additional charge. "I enjoy any game but Rangers is even bigger and even better," he said. "I haven't played in a midweek Old Firm game yet and I'm looking forward to that in front of 60,000 fans."