THERE are many, many reasons why John Kennedy, like everyone else of a Celtic persuasion, wants to send Rangers out of the Scottish Cup in their own back yard on Sunday.

Redemption of sorts after the humiliation of watching their city rivals lord it over them these last few months. A salve to the wound of missing out on 10 in-a-row. A release from the frustration of failing to defeat Rangers in the three previous meetings so far this term. And on a personal level, to bolster his managerial CV as he makes his pitch for the job on a permanent basis.

One image which would certainly gladden the heart of any Celtic supporter would be their departing captain Scott Brown climbing the Hampden steps yet again in May, bowing out of his trophy-laden career at the club in grand style by hoisting the Scottish Cup above his head for the seventh time.

Kennedy can’t afford to look quite that far ahead, but in the aftermath of a Celtic victory at Ibrox tomorrow, there is little doubt that Brown will not be far from his thoughts.

“I don’t want to make that the primary factor but it’s certainly something we would love to do,” Kennedy said. “One, win the cup for the team, but it would be excellent for Scott given what he has given to the club to finish on a real high.

“If it’s something we can use as an extra motivation then we will, but it’s also about making sure we know that you have to go out and play in a certain way and perform in a certain way to win the game and to allow that to happen.

“It would be a nice one for Scott to win this game and hopefully go on and win the cup, but we have to deal with one game at a time.”

Brown’s inclusion in the team tomorrow will be nothing to do with sentiment though, with Kennedy certainly not tempering his language when asked how valuable Brown’s influence will be for Celtic at Ibrox.

“Huge,” he said. “I think anyone watching our games of late, he has been very influential, really shown his maturity in how he’s playing the game and his role in the team.

“He always leads by example anyway as captain but certainly in his game, his use of the ball, his positioning, his tactical discipline, it has been first class. When he’s on form like that he’s a very important player for us.

“He’s got the experience in these games he has played in so many of them. Having him in the team always gives the other guys an element of comfort because he has seen it all. He is a big player and will continue to be that.”

Speaking of big players, Kennedy sounds as if he is growing quietly confident that James Forrest may be able to take his place in Celtic’s starting XI as he looks to shake off the stiffness in his back that forced him out of the action early against Livingston last week.

“It’s nothing too serious, we got him out on the pitch [on Thursday] and got a bit of work into him,” he said.

“He came off it a bit [on Friday] to give him a bit of recovery and we’ll have another go at him [today] to get more work in him.

“He has been influential in the last couple of weeks and with it being a cup game and a knock-out game and the last thing we’re playing for this year, we will leave that as late as we have to and make a decision on that one.

“We will be ready with or without him but fingers crossed that he can be part of it.”

The inclusion of Forrest would certainly bolster confidence in the Celtic ranks going into tomorrow’s match, but their performances in the last two Old Firm games – if not the end results – have justifiably put some wind in their sails in any case.

The missing part of the puzzle is coming away with the scoreline they feel they deserve, something that has not happened in those last two matches, and something that can rightfully be attributed to an Achilles heel that has plagued their season; their vulnerability from set-plays.

In fact, all of the goals that Celtic have conceded to Rangers this season have come from set-pieces, and Kennedy is desperately working on eradicating that weakness from their game. The best way to do that in his view?

“Not giving so many away!” he said.

“We’ve tried to control the games better, have more possession in areas further up the pitch. That helps. And we just try to bring a clarity to it.

“We’re not the biggest or most aggressive team, so we have to find a way to deal with any situation that might be a problem for us.

“We’ve done that this week, just as we have in previous weeks. It’s something we’ll continue to work on.

“But we don’t want to create a huge issue of it, where people are afraid of what the consequences might be. You’ve just got to trust it, believe in what you’re doing, know what your role is within that system – and try to carry it out to the best of your abilities.

“It’s just about understanding their role in that moment. It has cost us in previous games against Rangers, because the majority of the goals have come from those moments, whether it be first or second phase. And we’re well aware of that.

“We controlled the games well against Rangers but, at those decisive moments, we’ve had lapses in concentration.

“So, we want to address that, make sure that’s not the case on Sunday.

“Then we can concentrate on going up the other end and causing them problems.”