Former Celtic forward Kris Commons insists the Hoops are in the rare position of being under pressure to perform in Sunday’s crucial Old Firm clash at Rangers.

The Hoops’ lead at the Premiership summit has been reduced to six points, with the Ibrox outfit having won nine from 10 matches in all competitions under manager Graeme Murty.

Celtic cantered to the league title last season in Rangers’ first campaign back in the top flight, finishing some 39 points ahead of their Glasgow rivals, and 30 clear of runners-up Aberdeen.

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But ex-Scotland internationalist Commons insists Rangers are now a completely different kettle of fish.

He said: “It has been numerous years since Rangers have been anywhere near Celtic and going into this game I think there is an added bit of spice because for once Celtic are kind of under pressure to perform at Ibrox, which is a difficult thing to say. 

“From Celtic’s point of view, they’re going there knowing they can go nine points clear with a game in hand and that’s a massive psychological boost in Glasgow.

“Knowing Brendan Rodgers like I do, he will be going for the win, as will every player in that changing room.

“The disappointment of European football is now long gone and they concentrate on trying to achieve what no manager has done – and that’s securing back-to-back Trebles – and this will go a long way to securing that.”

Rangers boss Murty, who was handed the reins last October, has steadied the ship at Ibrox following Pedro Caixinha’s disastrous tenure at the club and Commons has been impressed by how the former Scotland defender has conducted himself.

He added: “It’s a remarkable run they’ve been on. Earlier on in the season there was a lot of chaos around the manager, the structure of the club, certainly the signings – but what I think Graeme Murty has done particularly well is get the most out of his forward players.

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“They are scoring at will and really are attractive going forward, they look a big threat, but I think there are still question marks in the defence. 

“What he’s done is remarkable, the club was in a bit of a real worrying moment, results weren’t good and attendances were down – it wasn’t nice football to watch under Pedro. Graeme has come in under pressure as an inexperienced manager.”

Commons, meanwhile, insists 12-goal Celtic striker Moussa Dembele will have a huge bearing on the outcome of Sunday’s televised clash.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “He’s absolutely vital – with Leigh Griffiths being injured he leads the line. 

“He knows all abut this fixture now and scored a wonderful hat-trick, which has got to give him confidence. 

“It seems like he is over his hamstring problems and is very powerful in his running, not only scoring goals but creating goals.”