Celtic are not poorer - we're just rising to their level

Last updated : 23 January 2009 By Mikbhoy

Much was written about John Rankin's 40-yard shot that beat Artur Boruc to set Hibs on their way to victory at Easter Road that day. The goal was described as a brilliant strike, a lucky shot and a goalkeeping howler but the marksman himself described it as a 'squiggler' and insists that he'd been practising the technique for months. He may have another chance to test himself against the Holy Goalie if, as looks likely, the big keeper wins his fitness battle after missing out last week through injury and the Hibs man is looking forward to another close game between two sides whom he thinks aren't as far apart in quality as maybe they once were.

"Is this not what Scottish football has been crying out for over the last few years?" asked Rankin "All we heard about was the need for teams to take points off the Old Firm and give some meaning to the championship race. It wouldn't be right to say ourselves or Aberdeen, or anybody else, have watched the Glasgow teams come down to our level. It would surely be fairer to give us credit for having raised our game. We went with an adventurous 4-3-3 system the last time we were at Celtic Park in October. We went two goals behind before giving Celtic a fright by equalising. We might have lost 4-2 but Hibs will go there to test Celtic's character once again this weekend."

"We were character building when my goal helped beat them the last time, having come off a bad run of our own." he added "Now Celtic will be asked a lot of questions about their temperament this Saturday. They have a couple of players who will rise to the occasion. I've admired Barry Robson since he was at Inverness with me, he was let go by Rangers as a kid but had the self-belief to take a step backwards and restore his career at Dundee United before joining Celtic. And Scott Brown has more than answered the critics who had a go at him when he first went to Celtic."

Rankin and his team-mates will relish the trip to Glasgow for many reasons and a decent pitch to play on is just one of them "We're not under any pressure as we go to meet them because we've got nothing to lose and we'll enjoy the atmosphere." he said "It's up to Celtic to break us down. We won't be playing a game of damage limitation but there will be an allowable element of caution. It's also the case that teams like Hibs are more inclined to raise their game at places like Celtic Park. It's a big platform and our chance to express ourselves in front of a huge audience. Even their playing surface is more of a lift to us because Easter Road's a bit of a nightmare to play on at the moment."

The Huns have a mid-day start at Pittodrie on Saturday and should they win (stop sniggering at the back there, it could happen!) they would be top of the table before Celtic kick off against Hibs "If Rangers go to Aberdeen and win then Celtic will be under real pressure, particularly after losing heavily at Pittodrie on Sunday." said Rankin "Every team hits a point in the season where their form dips and this is Celtic's time. The whole day will be about a championship double-header, Rangers at Pittodrie and us at Celtic Park. Celtic's character will need to come to the fore on the day and if that makes the title race even more exciting then don't knock it."