Philippe Clement tells Celtic boo boys to crank it up as Rangers just LOVE the Parkhead hostility powering them

Philippe Clement has told Celtic's boo-bhoys to turn up their jeers - because it will only make his Rangers side stronger.

The Ibrox outfit face a huge test on Saturday as they seek to salvage their title hopes at Parkhead. Realistically, only a win will do as the Light Blues look to slash Celtic’’s three point lead at the top of the table. But to do that, they will have to overcome both Brendan Rodgers’ champions and a 60,000-strong Parkhead crowd devoid of Rangers supporters.

But Clement insists he’s not troubled by the away fan lock out, declaring: “I’m really confident about that, I have no doubts about that. You need to love that if you want to be a player here or in this town. I know many love to play here. It’s a case when you’re on the pitch and I know when I was there in the past, when more people boo at you, the more people are shouting at you, the more people are negative towards you, the more they are afraid their team doesn’t get a result. It works that way so in a way I think the more they’re going to boo tomorrow, the stronger my team will get.”

Gers trail their bitter rivals on both points and goal difference. They can eat into both with a victory tomorrow lunchtime but Clement denied it’s a must-win encounter with just three games to come before the Premiership finish line. “I don’t totally agree with that,” said the big Belgian, who inherited a side seven points behind when he was appointed back in October. “If you have a draw you can still become champion. If you lose, that is too long a shot for me.

“We go full for the three points, clear, very, very clear. Doing that you can make an incredible comeback in that way and you can make a really big statement also.”

Clement’s injury woes haven’t improved much this week, though, as he disappointed fans praying widemen Abdallah Sima and Rabbi Matondo would pull through. The pair - who both netted in last month’s 3-3 derby draw - join a crocks like already containing Connor Goldson, Oscar Cortes, Danilo and Ryan Jack.

Defender Leon Balogun will be given time to prove his fitness after limping off against Kilmarnock last week. But if the Nigerian also drops out, Clement has full faith in Ben Davies after the defender made a scoring return to action off the bench following his own five-month lay-off.

Asked if Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz were ready to start, he grinned: “I cannot give my starting 11, that would be too easy. That was a smart question!

“It’s always a decision with the medical and performance staff with players who haven’t played for a long time coming out of injury. What is the best way short and long term? These decisions are made together.

“They make decisions about minutes and I decide if they start or come on. I always stick to those numbers as it is a story together. Maybe at one moment you need to take more risk, we will see if that moment comes.

“There is nothing new [on the injury front], only that Leon Balogun is a doubt. I am not sure yet if he will be available. We will see tomorrow. Connor Goldson is still out, Ryan Jack is not fit enough but took some minutes with the under-18 team to get rhythm after a long time. Alex Lowry the same. Oscar Cortes still out, Rabbi Matondo still out, Abdallah Sima still out and Danilo still out. So it is quite a list.”

Quizzed on whether he could take a chance on Balogun, Clement added: “That’s a decision between me, the medical staff and the player. We’re now in that part of the season when you can think about those things. It needs to be something that stays logical, we cannot put a player on the pitch only to take him off after five minutes, that’s of no use.”

Meanwhile, Clement shot down claims from Record Sport columnist Chris Sutton, who claimed Rodgers had got under his skin with last week’s “fun” comments.

The Rangers boss branded those words “disrespectful” last week but he brushed off the row, saying: “To have a comment on every comment in this town, I don’t have many hours that I can sleep. It’s just what I thought at that moment about that, it’s finished.”