JOHN Kennedy has welcomed the SFA’s announcement the Scottish Cup is to resume later this month and pledged that Celtic will try to finish a difficult season on a high by winning it for a record-breaking fifth consecutive occasion.

There were fears the national knockout competition wouldn’t be completed this season due to the coronavirus pandemic after it was suspended in January amid rising Covid-19 infection rates with 43 outstanding ties.

But it has been scheduled to restart on Tuesday, March 23, by the governing body - and the final has been pushed back until Saturday, May 22, to allow all of the fixtures to be played.

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Celtic caretaker Kennedy, who was in the dugout at Hampden back in December as Neil Lennon’s men beat Hearts on penalties to complete the quadruple treble, believes it will motivate his players to finish the season strongly. 

“It’s good news for us, the competition coming back in,” he said. “Obviously we’re the holders and we’ve had great success in this competition. 

“It gives us something else to focus on and go for, in terms of silverware, hopefully to finish the season off on a high. It gives us an extra incentive now, something to really attack.”

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Kennedy, whose team travel to Tannadice to play Dundee United in the Premiership tomorrow, is undeterred by the prospect of squeezing extra games into a hectic fixture list.

He feels that completing the Scottish Cup this term is preferrable to it overlapping into the 2021/22 campaign.  

“We’re happy with that,” he said. “We’re fortunate enough to have a squad big enough to cope with the extra games, if required. 

“And I look at the experience of last season, with what had to happen because of everything that came on us so quickly. They had to carry it over to get it finished.

“But it’s not quite the same vibe. You’re already into a new season, but you are playing in a competition from the season before so it gets a little bit lost. 

“It was great to win it for us and everything, to finish that off. But there’s nothing like going into May with, hopefully, a cup final around the corner and something to play for at the end of the season.  

“That’s what kind of tops of the season. So, if it can be done, it’s definitely the right thing to do. It’s just extra motivation.

"We just have to concentrate on ourselves, look at our own performances and create some consistency. But when you bring another competition into it, there’s a bit of silverware to go and attack. 

“And the Scottish Cup is ours at the moment. It’s something we want to keep hold of. So that’s an extra incentive for the last part of the season. It’s pleasing news for everybody.”

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Meanwhile, Kennedy has insisted that the prospect of Rangers winning the Scottish title if they slip-up against United on Tayside will have no bearing on the Celtic performance. 

“Our motivation is ourselves,” he said. “We can’t control what goes on elsewhere. We’ve just got to prepare well, attack every game. We want to be more consistent, score more goals and then we get the by-product of that. 

“Rangers are sitting in a very strong position. If we were sitting in that position ourselves, we’d be very happy with it. But we can’t affect that. We’ve just got to deal with the situation we find ourselves in. 

“That means going to Tannadice on Sunday, which is difficult, and try to win the game. Then, when the Rangers game comes around (at Parkhead on March 21), we deal with that. 

“We know there’s a lot of attention around when Rangers might win the league. Could it be at Celtic Park? But it’s genuinely not in my mind at all at the moment.”