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Ange Postecoglou expects tough game as Celtic return to action against Hibernian as Hoops face familiar face

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou believes Hibs will provide a tough challenge as the Hoops resume their Scottish Premiership campaign against a side who now have former Parkhead favourite Shaun Maloney in charge

cinch Scottish Premiership: Celtic v Hibernian (tonight, 7.45pm, Celtic TV)

ANGE Postecoglou is looking forward to Celtic returning to action with a "good challenge" against Hibernian at Parkhead on tonight.

The Hoops beat Hibs 2-1 in the Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden Park on December 19 when the Easter Road club had caretaker coach David Gray in charge following the sacking of Jack Ross.

Former Celtic attacker Shaun Maloney has subsequently taken over the reins at Hibs with wins against Aberdeen and Dundee United in his first two games.

Postecoglou expects another tough test against the Leith outfit in the first match after the rescheduled winter break as he looks to peg back Rangers' six-point lead at the top of the cinch Premiership table.

The former Australia boss said: "We obviously played them in the cup final. They are a good side starting to find their strengths, a new manager who has come in with plenty of energy and has given them a bit of a lift after a disappointing period.

"It should be a good challenge but I guess for us, the most important thing is to get going again and start playing football and playing football in front of fans.

"We are at home again, we haven't been at home at Celtic Park for a little while.

"So just looking forward to getting the season going again.

"It should be a good quality game, both teams are coming off the break, they will be nice and fresh and so I expect the pace of the game to be pretty high and hopefully it is an entertaining encounter."

Postecoglou is pleased that he will see Celtic Park full after Covid-19 attendance restrictions were ended by the Scottish government.

The top-flight clubs voted to move the winter break forward after Scotland announced a 500-fan cap from Boxing Day in the hope that the majority of supporters would be allowed back inside grounds when the campaign resumed.

He said: "The clubs took the right course of action.

"We understood why the government did what they did at that time but as I said at the time, I thought it was quite logical, with the natural break that we have that other leagues don't have, it would have been ludicrous to try to play without crowds.

"We gave ourselves a least an opportunity to start again (with crowds).

"We've only really had one round of fixtures without fans in there and that is testament to the fact that everyone in the league was looking at the greater good and the greater good is to make sure that our supporters and clubs were hand in hand in making sure that games were played in full stadiums."

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