BRENDAN Rodgers feels Rangers moving back to the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership is “irrelevant” to Celtic - and stressed he is focusing solely on helping his players to rediscover their best form.

Rodgers’s side failed to reclaim first place in the league table from Kilmarnock when they were beaten 2-0 by Hibernian at Easter Road in the early game on Sunday.

That defeat allowed Steven Gerrard’s team, who have played one match more, to edge a point ahead of them in the top flight later when they defeated Hamilton 1-0 at Ibrox.

Rodgers, whose side qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League last Thursday night despite losing 2-1 to Salzburg at Parkhead, has welcomed the closeness of the Scottish title race this season.

However, the Northern Irishman, whose side face Motherwell at home in the Premiership tonight, emphasised he is unconcerned by the fact that Celtic are in third place at this stage in the 2018/19 campaign.

“You look at the league and you see its tight which I’ve always said is good,” he said. “‘Of course, when there’s competition there that’s good for you.

“But we always look at our on game because what Rangers do, or Kilmarnock or any of the teams, is irrelevant to us. We have to do our own job and play to our own standards.

“It’s tighter this year of course. But like I say we’re in a very good position and if we can take that into the second part of the season I’ll be very happy.”

Rodgers is, despite his annoyance about the loss his understrength side suffered at the weekend, refusing to be downbeat as the end of what has been another memorable 12 months for Celtic.

He may, though, be slightly more perturbed if his side is further behind Kilmarnock and Rangers when they enter the three week shutdown after the Glasgow derby match on Saturday week.

He would like to see his side take maximum points from the run of fixtures they have coming up before then. After playing Motherwell at Parkhead tonight, they face Dundee at home on Saturday and then Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Boxing Day and Rangers at Ibrox after that.

“It’s an important 11 days for us now,” he said. “We’ll get a break after that which the players clearly need.

“We’ll be at the top or somewhere about it by the turn of the year. We know we’ll get stronger. We know we’ll get better. We’ll push on into the second half of the season really motivated.

“We’re getting towards the end of the year and we’ve had another great year. We’ve won a cup already, are into the last 32 (of the Europa) and in the league everything is in our hands.

“So I can’t really complain. We want to be better of course. We can be better. But we now need to go into our next two home games starting with Motherwell looking to get maximum points.”

Rodgers, who is unlikely to persevere with the three man defence he went with in Edinburgh on Sunday despite the fact his first choice right back Mikael Lustig may not be available, has had time to look back on the Hibs game.

He maintains the draining match against Salzburg on Thursday night and the absence of key players Dedryck Boyata, Ryan Christie, Lustig, Kieran Tierney and Tom Rogic contributed to the insipid performance.

But he would like to see an improved attitude from his side when they host Jim McIntyre’s team and record a much-needed win that will go some way towards atoning for the three dropped points.

“My reflections aren’t any different,” he said. “We didn’t play well and were disappointed. It was the first game that conceded a goal in the first half this season domestically so that tells you why I was so shocked at conceding so early.

“We normally start really brightly and why a tempo. But the first goal put us on the back foot and of course it gives Hibs a bit of oxygen and a surge of adrenalin to hang on to that.

“We didn’t play well enough. That’s the reality of it. But I can’t complain because the players have been incredible for me. In two and a half years they’ve had great success.”

Rodgers added: “From time to time there will be variables that go against us. Injuries, things that will happen in the game and maybe not quite being at our level.

“We came off the back of a really tough game on Thursday. Hibs are one of the teams you go to who have good energy and always seem to find the motivation when they play against us.

“There’s a world of difference between success and having hunger for success. Now we have to kick on and put that hunger into action.”