Rangers' Phillipe Clement plays down Celtic match and gives big fitness update on Ridvan Yilmaz and Abdallah Sima

Philippe Clement will take charge of his first home Old Firm derby.Philippe Clement will take charge of his first home Old Firm derby.
Philippe Clement will take charge of his first home Old Firm derby.
Belgian reminds everybody that there is still a lot of football to be played

Rangers boss Philippe Clement insists Sunday’s Old Firm game at Ibrox will not be decisive in terms of the cinch Premiership title race.

With eight fixtures remaining, the Light Blues are one point behind reigning champions Celtic with a game in hand. Rangers lost 1-0 to Celtic at Ibrox in September when Michael Beale was in charge and went down 2-1 at Celtic Park in December in Clement’s first experience of a Glasgow derby, and there will be another Old Firm game at Celtic Park after the split.

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However, the Belgian somewhat played down the significance of Sunday’s lunchtime clash in Govan. “It is always a big game, it is a six-point game and we know we have another one in a few weeks but it is not yet a decisive game,” said Clement, who revealed that left-back Ridvan Yilmaz, who injured himself on international duty with Turkey, will be assessed for his fitness. “So whoever wins is not champions. It is not like that. I am happy with what I have seen from my team after the last Old Firm game.

“We have had 11 games until now and we took 30 points from 33 and we could have taken more points in the Motherwell game, it could have been better than that and we scored more goals than Celtic in that period and less goals against. So that is really good consistency but not a guarantee for anything.

“It is a really big step forward from the beginning of the season and my first part of the season that there has been more consistency. Bigger squad, better results, more people ready to do the job so I see my team growing month by month and this is the next challenge. But don’t forget this, there are still a lot of games to play, not only the two Old Firm games.”

Clement also believes there will be no psychological impact on his players regardless of the result. He said: “No, because my message has been really clear from the beginning. I don’t want a team that after a disappointment stay in the disappointment and they have proven that, not too much because we haven’t had too much disappointment. And I don’t want a team that when they have a really good moment like it was in Seville (beat Real Betis 3-2) that they stay in that emotion and the next game they are not there. That is stupid because you lose the points. So there will not be a difference, whatever the result but we are of course going to go full out to get the three points.”

On Yilmaz’s condition, Clement said: “We will make a decision tomorrow or even on Sunday around that. He has been training but not enough with the team to ensure he is in the squad. (Abdallah) Sima is fit enough to start but not to play 90 minutes. It depends which part of the game you want him on the pitch so that is my decision.”



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