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Football: Rodgers demands more from Celtic record breakers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his side still has room for improvement, despite their record-breaking unbeaten domestic run.

The champions, who take on Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday, are unbeaten in 69 games against Scottish opposition in a run that goes back to May 2016, and have found the net in every one of those matches.

However, Rodgers — whose side have only conceded 13 goals in 21 league games this season — has challenged his players to show progress in the defensive side of their game as well.

“Our identity as a team is to defend well first of all,” said Rodgers.

“And I think we can still be better on that front even though we’ve conceded less goals at this period of the season than we did last season.

“I still feel there are areas of that where we can be a little bit more synchronised in our work and our pressing, and the players are doing very well at it, but our demand is to be better in those moments.”

Celtic’s long unbeaten run has come under threat in recent weeks with Motherwell and Hibernian both running them close.

Rodgers admitted he was proud of his side’s never-say-die attitude as they look to successfully defend the treble the club won last season.

“We’ve got lots of goal threats in the team,” said Rodgers.

“They never leave the game early, so no matter what the scoreline is, they’re also going to be there for the duration of the game, and that’s something that we’re proud of.”

Rodgers also revealed he will be without Australian midfielder Tom Rogic for the Hearts clash after he was ruled out until January with a knee problem.

‘Don’t think they look invincible’

Hearts are on a decent run themselves, going unbeaten in five games under new manager Craig Levein, but they have failed to beat Celtic in their past 18 league games.

However, former Scotland boss Levein says he remains hopeful of ending that dismal run at the recently refurbished Tynecastle.

“All of us are trying to do it,” Levein said of the attempt to end Celtic’s unbeaten record.

“We will have to rely on a few things, us being very good on the day and Celtic not being quite at their best.

“I don’t think they look invincible, I think they have just got very good players.

“It is a great achievement of course and they have to be commended for the way they have managed to keep their focus for so many matches.”

Celtic could find their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership pegged back by the time they face Hearts.

Rivals Rangers take on St Johnstone at Ibrox on Saturday looking for their fifth successive win under interim manager Graeme Murty which could take them to within two points of the leaders.

Third-placed Aberdeen could join them on 39 points if they can see off Hibernian at Pittodrie.

Fixtures (1500GMT unless otherwise stated)

Aberdeen v Hibernian (1230), Dundee v Partick Thistle, Hamilton v Ross County, Kilmarnock v Motherwell, Rangers v St Johnstone

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