• Injury and fitness updates on Ridvan and Sima
  • Old Firm clash is a 'six-point' match in title race
  • Focus on Celtic rather than Dens Park pitch concerns

Philippe Clement has spoken to the media ahead of the Old Firm fixture with Celtic. Here is what the Rangers boss had to say.

Can you give us a fitness update on the squad? Is Ridvan available?

That is not sure yet. We are going to see tomorrow, or even on Sunday, to make a decision around that. The rest, everybody is available who was available for the last game so the only three players out are Ryan Jack, Danilo and Oscar Cortes.

Has Ridvan been training this week?

He has been training but not enough with the team, for the moment, to be sure that he is in the squad. He has been training, yes.

Is Abdallah Sima fit enough to start?

He is fit enough to start but not to play 90 minutes. It depends what part of the game you want him on the pitch. So that is my decision.

Do you have a preference?

Yes, I have a preference. You want to know more? I don’t think I will do that today!

In terms of the destination of the title, how big is this game?

It is always a big game, it is a six-point game. That we know. We have another one in a few weeks also in that way. It is not yet a decisive game so whoever wins is not champion. It is not like that. I am happy with what I have seen about my team after the last Old Firm. After that game we had eleven games until now, we have taken 30 points out of 33 and we could have taken more points in the Motherwell game. It could have been better than that. We scored more goals than Celtic in that period and less goals against so that is really good consistency but it is not a guarantee for anything. It is a really big step forward for the period from the beginning of the season, also my first part of the season. There has been more consistency, better results, a bigger squad, more people ready to do the job. I see my team growing month by month and now this is the next challenge.

There will be another Old Firm game after the split…

And a lot of other games also. Don’t forget this, there are still a lot of games to play, not only the two Old Firm games. Also many other games.

Could a win on Sunday have a psychological impact on your team?

On my team not. No.

It would just be the points and then focusing on the rest of the games?

Yes. This message has been really clear from the beginning and my team knows. I don’t want to think after the deception stays the deception. They have proven that, not too much, because we didn’t have too much deception. I don’t want a team that when they have a really good moment, like it was for example in Seville, that they stay in that emotion and the next game they are not there. That is stupid because the next game you lose the points. There will not be a difference whatever the result but we are going to go full to get the three points. That is clear because it is a six-point game.

What are the lessons you have learned from the last game against Celtic?

That we didn’t grab the moments and they did. For sure for their second goal, an exceptional goal, that I didn’t see that player do in the rest of the season. You know these are the kind of games you need to grab the moments, it is decided in details, it is decided in players making the difference, not only offensive but also defensive. And to be on top of your game, 90 minutes long, 100 minutes long. I think a really good example was also yesterday when I was watching my old boys who play for Chelsea now against Man Utd. You see this game was turning side to side scenarios several times during the game because everyone kept on going until the last second. We have proven that also in the past that we can go to difficult moments. If the moments are falling our way we can keep a result. That is what I expect from my players.

How do they stay mentally sharp in matches for that long?

We work really hard on our structure, on our discipline, on our tasks, on our confidence also. It is also about building this month after month with new experiences. The more experiences we have together on the pitch the better they will get. It is another good challenge in that way. I see it in this way and it is about building consistency in a group of players, not in 11 players but in 28 players. This consistency to do this job every day, to know what they have to do with the ball, without the ball, all the movements, all the reactions together. And to repeat that time after time after time. If you do that, you get consistency and you get at the end trophies and success. Is it now? Is it later? It comes because the consistency is there and that results in results.

Are you worried about the schedule and the pitch at Dens Park?

It would be a big surprise if it was unplayable because it was a good pitch, I hear, a few weeks ago. No, I am busy now with the Celtic game. If I am busy with that, to arrange other pitches, I am not busy with that. That is work for the groundsman and other people to do that. I am only busy with Sunday’s game.

Have the club had contact from Dundee?

I don’t know because we didn’t discuss that. We are only busy with ourselves now and our own game. We cannot do anything about that.

How important is the psychological factor compared to when you came in?

The team was psychologically ready last time also in December and they have proven, even with ten at the end of the game, to really go hard for the result. We were really close to getting the result, even with ten players. The players are ready for that, for quite a while and not [just] these last few weeks.

What role do you see Leon Balogun playing and how do you feel personally about the rivalry?

I'm very happy about Leon. I didn't have the chance in the last couple of weeks to put him on the field more because I had so much rotation to do with the offensive players that we're not ready for 90 minutes so he was unlucky in that way but he has been really good in training. He's been inspiring for the young players in the building who are in the squad and who come to train with us. He's helping in a really good way so he has been a really good asset for the club and I'm really happy with him. About the game, this is a massive game. If you walk around the town in the next couple of days you will see. Everybody has an opinion about this game. My opinion is that it's fantastic to be a manager in this environment. In an environment where everybody is so passionate about football, where everybody loves football and where everybody is living towards this game. It's a nice place to be so that gives a lot of energy and, as a manager, you don't want anything other than that.

How much of a better place is Cyriel Dessers in after his miss at Parkhead?

He was in a good place then. He just scored a really important goal in Betis to make a historical victory. That's life as a striker, you score chances and you are the guy. You miss chances and then suddenly some people say you are a bad player. It doesn't work that way. I think Cyriel is taking good steps if I compare the last five months. He's evolving as a player, he's becoming better. I don't see him at his best level yet, I think there are still things to improve but I have seen a lot of things that he's improved in that period together and he's scoring more goals than he was before. His statistics are quite good for the moment but they can be better but it's not all about scoring it's about the other things he's doing for the team. I'm not only looking at his goals, I'm looking at what he's been doing for the team and helping the team defensively also where he puts a lot of effort in and also giving chances to other players to run in certain spaces to score goals. He's in a good way, I think everybody sees a better player than five months ago.

How important is it that Callum McGregor isn't allowed to dictate play?

I don't agree that he dominated the play at Celtic Park. There were moments that he was good on the ball but there were also moments where he wasn't dominating the game. I think my midfielders also dominated the game in moments. I saw the first game and it's true he was dominating but I don't need to say too much about that. He's a very good player and he's somebody with a lot of quality. He's really good on the ball and he's really important for their team so it's important to take that strength out of their team and that's one part you need to do but it's not only about one player.

Are there any nerves from you heading into the game?

No, I love it. I'm not nervous, I'm excited about it, I'm looking forward to it. This is something you need to embrace, not be nervous about. These are great afternoons, I have a lot of confidence in my squad and I have a lot of confidence in our fans so those are the challenging moments because you play against a good team who will do their best to beat you and there will be a lot of quality from both sides. It's the only way also to grow as a player, to have challenges, to have tough games to play against good opponents. If you make the next steps into that you go to another level and that's what I want to do with this squad, with this club and with the squad next season to become better and to raise the level time after time with a lot of success and maybe some disappointments along the way because that's also the way to success to learn lessons out of that. I prefer to have success on Sunday, let's be clear about that.