Brendan Rodgers admits Rangers playing after Celtic can add 'weight' but there's no escape from scoreboard pressure

Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic playing first this weekend can give them an advantage over Rangers in the title race.

The champions welcome Hearts to Parkhead in a fixture that will carry some trepidation. The Jambos have beaten the Hoops home and away in their last two meetings and with the season now well and truly in the home straight, and slip ups now could be fatal for Celtic's title hopes.

Rangers are also facing tricky foes with Kilmarnock the visitors to Ibrox. Michael Beale's side lost the opening game of the campaign at Killie and there's a feeling that if either half of the Old Firm are going to drop points in the run in when not facing each other, then this opponent could be one of them. The last time Celtic were first to play, they did the business against St Mirren and watched Rangers fluff their lines against Ross County the following day.

And Rodgers hopes his side can put the pre-match pressure onto their rivals again this weekend. He said: "I can sit here and lie and say no, but scoreboard pressure is always there. But it doesn't count for nothing if you don't do the job.

"If you're playing second, of course you'll know the other teams result. But in the Premiership, you have to focus on yourself. But it can definitely add weight, especially at this time of the season."

Daizen Maeda is back in training and Rodgers confirmed he'll return to the squad on Saturday. The Parkhead gaffer added: "He will come into the squad. It's great news for us, thinking he was not going to be available initially, but he has recovered remarkably well and I think we all see he is a specimen physically. He has got back and it's brilliant news for us."