Barry Ferguson has claimed Celtic’s title hopes could be crippled by self doubt after suffering an Old Firm knock-out blow at Hampden.
Former Rangers skipper Ferguson admits his old rivals are still red hot favourites to win back the title with Ange Postecoglou and his players six points clear at the top of the table and with a huge goal difference advantage going into the final five top flight games of the season.
But Ferguson suspects the mental and physical damage inflicted upon them by the Ibrox men in Sunday’s Scottish cup thriller could take a lasting toll when they travel north to face Ross County this weekend.
And he has questioned whether or not the league leaders have the bottle required to finish off the job.
In his exclusive column for Record Sport Ferguson wrote: “Yes, I realise the title is a long shot with only five games to go.
“But, after tasting defeat for the first time in almost seven months on Sunday, Celtic are now facing some very different questions as they head up the road to Ross County this weekend.
“How do they recover from such a crushing disappointment? Have they really got the bottle for this battle or not?
“Personally, I think they do. I fully expect them to come back from Dingwall with all three points.
“But you just never know how players are going to react when they’ve had the wind knocked out of them and are then plunged straight back into a high pressure scenario. It can all get too much for some.
“Rangers can’t look any further than Fir Park on Saturday. They need to win that one then sit back and see if Celtic can handle it.
“Who knows? Sunday might have taken more out of them than even they realise. There could even be an element of self doubt creeping into their own minds. Are they getting tired? Are they running out of gas?
“We’ll only find out the answers when that whistle goes on Sunday afternoon. But it could be about to get very interesting.”