JAMES TAVERNIER believes the current team is the strongest he has played in at Rangers and he is confident they will be at their best on Sunday.

The Light Blues go into the first Old Firm showdown of the season after reaching the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday night in Russia and Tav is looking forward to leading his side out at Celtic Park this weekend.

The Gers captain said: “This is a season that I have felt I’m really excited about what the future brings.

“I feel like this is the strongest team I’ve played with since I have been here, so I am confident and I’m sure the boys will put in a great display. We’ll just have to see what happens on the day.”

Rangers suffered two heavy defeats to their east end rival in April, losing 4-0 at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi-final and then 5-0 at Parkhead in the Premiership.

Tavernier, however, believes Celtic will face a different challenge at 12noon on Sunday. He said: “It’s a completely different team this season so those games are in the past.

We’ve got a completely new team, a new defensive line, and along with Greegsy we’ve done outstanding since the start of the season. Even with nine men last night we’ve been resilient.

“So coming into this game I know that we’ve got a much stronger defence and those games before will not faze us one bit.”

With Allan McGregor and Kyle Lafferty returning to the club this summer Steven Gerrard’s squad includes two men who have experienced winning at Celtic Park and Tavernier believes they will be important players on the day.

He continued: “We’ve got a lot of experience in the squad but with Laff and Greegsy they have obviously got the experience at Parkhead.

“That will be vital in the game but we’ve got great leaders in the team who can manage the game really well.

“I don’t doubt that when called upon the lads will stand up to it.”

Gerrard has made huge changes to the Rangers squad since he took over the managerial reins in May but Tavernier insists all the new players  will know about the Old Firm and the red-hot atmosphere they will run out to if selected.

He said: “I think the boys, before they even came here, would have known about the magnitude of the game.

“On game day, and obviously in the lead up to it, you truly feel the magnitude of it and I think the boys will experience that on Sunday.

“But I think the boys are more than prepped to go into the game and put in a good shift.”

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