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Europa League round of 16 draw

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By ESPN Staff

Naismith predicts close finish ahead of Old Firm

Rangers forward Steven Naismith has predicted another dramatic climax to the Premier League season, regardless of the outcome of Sunday's Old Firm derby.

Celtic go into the game just two points clear of their arch-rivals, who are looking to go top of the table for the first time since November.

Rangers trailed by seven points at the turn of the year but have clawed their way back into contention.

That has come as no surprise to Naismith, who told Rangers World: "Just looking throughout the whole season, the points gap has varied throughout and one week it's doom and gloom, the next week it's back to rosy again.

"There's obviously still a lot of points to play for and there will be a lot of twists and turns up until the end of the season."

A serious knee injury forced Naismith to miss the last season's run-in, during which Rangers narrowly failed to complete an historic quadruple.

Asked if he was even hungrier to be involved this time around, he said: "I am. Missing out on a very hectic end to the season last season, it does make you more determined this season to push on and give your all."

Yet the 22-year-old, who has made two first-team appearances since his return, is determined not to rush his return to full match fitness.

"I'd like to be involved in every game but this isn't my first major injury," he said. "Coming back from this, I've obviously been taking advice from everybody around the club.

"I just need to take my time coming back and any game time I get, just treasure it and do as well as I can."

With one win apiece in head-to-head meetings this season, the outcome of derby matches has so far not had the kind of impact it did last term.

Indeed, it is the points won and lost against the rest of the SPL that has made the real difference.

Naismith said: "Both teams have dropped points against other teams outside each other. It shows that the competition is much greater and it's not just about the Old Firm. He would certainly relish playing some part at Parkhead on Sunday.

"Obviously it's a fixture throughout the season where all four of them are going to be massive," Naismith said. "But it's getting much tighter at the top again and it's going to be a massive game, so it's one we need to perform well in."


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