HIBS defender Steven Whittaker admits he plans to prevent friend Scott Brown and Celtic from enjoying an Easter Road title party on Sunday.

Should Rangers fail to beat Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday then victory for the Hoops 24 hours later would seal an eighth successive crown and move the team one step closer to securing a third straight treble.

Former Scotland and Rangers player Whittaker stepped up his recovery from a hip injury that has sidelined him since February 9 with a run-out in Monday’s reserve win over Dundee United and could make his comeback against Neil Lennon’s side.

But with the Leith side chasing down a Europa League place following six wins from eight under new manager Paul Heckingbottom, Whittaker is eager to make sure Celtic’s champagne is kept on ice.

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He said: “If Celtic can do it on the day that will be a huge incentive for them, but even if they can’t I’m sure they’ll want to make sure they can get the title wrapped up as quickly as possible.

“Obviously you don’t want to see them winning it on your pitch, but regardless of how things are it won’t change our game plan in any way.

“No matter what Celtic have to play for on the day, we’ll only have the three points in our sights.”

Now 34 and in his 19th professional season, Whittaker was part of the ‘golden generation’ at Hibs that also included current Celtic captain Brown.

Ex-Scotland captain Brown enjoyed a renaissance under Brendan Rodgers before the Northern Irishman left for Leicester City and Whittaker admits he has nothing but admiration for Brown for the way his career has panned out.

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He added: “Scott’s career speaks for itself, it’s been fantastic and I am sure he will be hoping to win a couple more trophies before the end of this season.

“Every time he’s been written off he just bounces back. I saw it with Davie Weir at Rangers playing up to and beyond 40.

“Every time the team didn’t play well, not necessarily Davie, it was a case of ‘he’s too old, he’s this or he’s that’."

Whittaker, meanwhile, is delighted to be on the verge of a comeback after sustaining an injury just as Heckingbottom walked through the door in February.

He added: “It’s been frustrating. With a new manager coming you want to show him what you can do but in his very first training session I pulled my hip flexor.

“It wasn’t the ideal start but that’s part and parcel of football. I’ve had to do my rehabilitation and have now got to the point of getting some minutes on the pitch.”