Ange Postecoglou says Celtic are in 'best place' of season for Rangers showdown
cinch Scottish Premiership: Rangers v Celtic (Sunday, 12pm, Sky Sports Football)
CELTIC manager Ange Postecoglou has called on his team to make the most of their healthy state going into Sunday's trip to Ibrox and play their best football of the season.
Postecoglou has Kyogo Furuhashi available again after three months out with a hamstring problem, having recently got David Turnbull back from a similar injury.
With Tom Rogic also shaking off a knock, Postecoglou has all but James Forrest at his disposal going into Sunday's crucial cinch Premiership contest.
Celtic stepped up a gear after the winter break after bringing in four new signings following struggles with injuries in the latter part of 2021.
The league leaders are now 30 domestic games unbeaten ahead of facing Rangers, who are three points and 14 goals behind, and have won 11 of their previous 12 league matches.
Postecoglou said: "It was going to be hard for us to be at our best at the beginning of the season because of the way we had to put the group together. We had to sort of grind our way through it.
"But the best planning was that you get to this point of the season, when you know all the games have huge consequences, and try and have a fit and healthy squad, and also try and play your best football at this time of the year.
"I think we have grown through the season, each block we have got a little bit better. Now we are into the final block so that's our intent, to play our best football now.
"Certainly in terms of the health of our squad, this is the best place we have been in all year, for sure, which gives us that platform.
"But you have got to go out there and do it. It's one thing to plan for these things but we have still got to go out there and execute and the players know that.
"The foundation is there for us to play our best football now because we have the strongest group of players we have had since the beginning of the year."
Celtic were six points adrift at the turn of the year but Postecoglou believes the turnaround in fortunes is down to his side's form rather than a collapse from Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side.
"They have been pretty consistent with their form," he said. "I know people have said that, because of our position in the league, they have tailed off, but they have only lost one game in the league since Gio took over and that was against us.
"Our form has been really, really good so people maybe have a look at their form and think they have been a bit off it but they have been pretty consistent.
"In terms of their approach, they are a strong team, well organised, well structured, they have got some strengths in terms of being able to play in transition. They have been fairly flexible in terms of how they play within a game.
"We go into every game, this one included, expecting the opposition to be at their best, to have their strongest team out there and approach how we can overcome whatever they bring to the table with our football. That doesn't change this weekend.
"I'm sure they will be a formidable opponent and it's up to us to overcome the challenge in front of us."