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GERS STAR’S CELTIC BOAST

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NIKOLA KATIC insists Rangers would be champions – if they played Celtic every week.

The Croatian centre-back was the matchwinner the last time the teams met at Parkhead on December 29 – the Govan club’s first victory in the east end of Glasgow in nine years.

Katic, who has a knee injury and will miss his club’s kick off to the Premiership campaign against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday, August 1, also believes it was an error to end the season prematurely with the Hoops being awarded their ninth successive crown.

The 23-year-old defender, speaking to the media in his homeland, said: “I think the decision not to continue the league was a mistake. England managed to continue and they are very close to us.

“We could have played on here and we have now had a very long break. By the time the league starts in August, it will have been four-and-a-half months without a game for us. So it certainly would have been better if we had not ended the season.

“In the league, Celtic have been champions for years, but we matched them very well last season before we fell away after the break.

“At every step, you can feel the rivalry and I feel we are at least on their level. Those games against Celtic are a special experience, I had the good fortune to experience a victory and I will remember that for the rest of my life.

“If we had played every game last season against Celtic, we would be champions. Against them, we were always playing at a high standard.

“In the League Cup Final, we were impossibly good against Celtic, but just couldn’t score.”

The Glasgow foes met three times last term with Neil Lennon’s men winning two. Goals from Odsonne Edouard and Jonny Hayes gave them a 2-0 victory at Ibrox in the opening league game in September.

The Hoops also claimed the Betfred League Cup in December when Christopher Jullien scored the only goal of a tense Hampden encounter in which Fraser Forster defied the Ibrox outfit, including a penalty-kick save from Alfredo Morlos.

However, the towering keeper was helpless when Katic flashed in a second-half header from a left-wing corner-kick to clinch the points after Ryan Kent has netted the opener which had been cancelled by Edouard’s strike before the interval.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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