Former Hoops striker John Hartson believes that Celtic have enough to beat Rangers and take a conclusive step towards a Treble this weekend.

However, the BBC pundit has warned that Rangers will throw everything at Celtic in attempt to thwart their aspirations of performing a domestic clean sweep for only the fourth time in their history.

Hartson was signed by Martin O’Neill months after Celtic last achieved that feat, so it isn’t an experience that he had as a Parkhead player, but despite that he can appreciate the magnitude of what the current generation are on the cusp of.

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“The fact is that Trebles are very difficult to do historically – Celtic have only done three, although Rangers have done a few more. But when you think of it, there should have been more down through the years.

“Even if Celtic come through this they still have to get to the final but Rangers will be thinking that they can put a dent in Celtic’s Treble opportunity. They will feel that they are the team to stop Celtic doing the Treble. Celtic have enjoyed the overpowering of Rangers this year. They have enjoyed that.

“They have enjoyed beating them three times and Rangers will think this is an opportunity. It is a semi-final, it is at Hampden. Although the hard money is on Celtic, the wise man would back the team who are 35 points clear of them in the league which is ridiculous and they have better players you have to remember that this is a semi-final and as we have seen in the past, things can happen. “We have seen upsets so Rangers will feel they have that mental approach where they think that they need to stop their rivals winning the treble. That will be their thoughts.”

Hartson is wary of committing to a specific scoreline after going all out before previous meetings of the teams.

However, there are few who would look beyond Celtic this Sunday afternoon at the national stadium.

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Brendan Rodgers’ side have been off the pace somewhat in recent games, inevitable perhaps given the fact that it was a relatively straightforward league title win, a win that was secured with months of playing time to spare.

Hartson, though, expects that the Hoops boss will be using all of his motivational powers this week as he prepares his side for two games against Rangers in less than a week.

“It can be tough but under Brendan I think they have a manager who keeps them in tip top condition and mentally sharp,” he said. “I thought they should have won the game at the weekend. You saw the penalty incident which was unbelievable.

“They have had some fairly indifferent results of late but I think on Sunday they will put that to one side. It can be difficult when you feel the job is done but under Brendan it will be different. I think he will be drumming it into the lads how special it is.”

And the striker, who was the last Celtic player of the modern era to hit the 100-goal mark for the Parkhead club, has insisted that this is the game where players can make themselves heroes.

“The boys know themselves how good it is to win against Rangers,” he said. “I was very blessed to have played in many derbies, to have scored the winning goal in derbies and it is a great feeling. Not, ten years retired, I can look back and my memories are the winning goals against Rangers because they are the goals in games that adhere you to the crowd.

“It is a great feeling and vice-versa; when you lose it is an absolute nightmare.”

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For Hartson who arrived just after that inaugural O’Neill season there could be a lament that he did not win a Treble with Celtic. However, given the bigger issues that have affected the 42-year-old, the Welshman has maintained that he felt he only had things to be thankful for during his time in Glasgow – including the fact he actually made it into the team.

“I don’t have any regrets in my career,” he said. “I joined Celtic the year after they won a treble. I was lucky to get in the side never mind win a treble.

“Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton scored 66 goals between them that treble season but in five years there I never came out the team once I got in. I played whenever I was fit and ready - even if I came off after 65 minutes a few times!

“Martin gave assurances that I played and Chris went into midfield or centre-back.

“That was our European team - Paul Lambert wouldn’t have played in Seville if I was fit. The central midfield three was Neil Lennon, Stiliyan Petrov and Sutton with me and Henrik up front.

“But I did my back three weeks before Seville at Ibrox of all places. We’d come back from Boavista on the Thursday and we won on the Sunday and I did my back in.

“I knew it had gone and I was out straight away. I’d have played in the final on one leg but with a back injury it’s different as so much goes through your back. But overall I was happy to get in the team let alone win trebles.”

*John Hartson/Alan Stubbs was speaking at the John Hartson Foundation Golf Day. The Hartson Foundation is on course to raise £1million for charities.