JOE Aribo has claimed there is no chance of anyone getting into the heads of his Rangers team mates during the neck-and-neck Scottish title race - due to their strong mentality.

Neil Lennon suggested Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hearts at Tynecastle last Wednesday night – a result which increased their lead in the Ladbrokes Premiership to five points - would put their nearest challengers under pressure.

However, Steven Gerrard’s team promptly romped to an emphatic 3-0 victory over Hibernian at Easter Road, a ground they hadn’t triumphed at in two years, on Friday evening.

Aribo, who netted the second goal in the convincing capital triumph, believes that shows the Ibrox club, who take on their city rivals at Celtic Park on Sunday, won’t be affected by mind games in the coming months.


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“People are going to say things and try to get into our heads,” he said. “We just have to stay focused.

“I have the same pressure going into every game knowing that we have to win. Nothing really changes. We know we have to win regardless so I wouldn’t say there is any added pressure.

“I would say our mentality is too strong for anyone to get into our heads. We don’t need to look at what anyone else is saying because they’re not on the pitch. We just need to look at our next opponents and then face them. That is what we need to do.”

Aribo feels the way the Rangers players kept their cool despite being pelted by missiles – including a glass vodka bottle – by Hibs fans on Friday night showed they are resilient psychologically.

“You just have to take it as it comes really,” he said. “We have to play our game. We can’t just change for the occasion because then you are letting the occasion get the better of you. We just have to do what we do on a daily basis.

“That is not what you want to see, but the referees have to help us in that situation. We need some looking after on the pitch from the referees. What can we do when glass bottles are thrown at us?”


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Celtic moved five points clear of Rangers – who have a game in hand against eighth-placed Ross County at home still to play - again on Saturday when they defeated Aberdeen 2-1 at Parkhead.

However, Aribo revealed that nobody in the Ibrox dressing room is paying any attention to what the defending champions are doing and stressed they are only focusing on their match against Kilmarnock in Govan on Boxing Day.

“We are not really watching them too much,” he said. “We just know that we have to take it game by game. We have to win every single game. If we’re doing that then we’re doing the right thing. We don’t really have to look at what’s going on over there.

“I didn’t know it at first when I came here. Charlton was more laid back. But I know now that we have to win every single game. This week is massive. We have to take every game as it comes. We just want to be able to get the results that we need to moving forward.”

Rangers were without their leading scorer Alfredo Morelos in Leith on Friday night – the Colombian striker was suspended after being red carded against Motherwell at Fir Park the previous Sunday – and still won comfortably.

Aribo, who netted his sixth goal of the 2019/20 campaign against Hibs, reckons the performance shows they aren’t too dependent on Morelos, who is set to return against Kilmarnock on Thursday.


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“It’s not just one player that we have to rely on,” he said. “We know when we have to step up that we can all step up and do what we have to do on the pitch, one hundred per cent.

“The boys are buzzing with the result. It is always good for the front three to be getting goals. Razzer’s (Ryan Kent) one was just wonderful technique. We are happy for him with that one. Even JD (Jermain Defoe) with the last one did well, the way he cut inside.”

Rangers manager Gerrard spoke on Friday about how giving Aribo greater licence to roam had helped him rediscover the form that he showed at the start of the season and the 23-year-old admitted he was relishing having more freedom.

“I would say at first if I was told something or given an instruction I would listen too much to the instruction,” he said. “Recently the manager has just been saying to me ‘play free, go and do what you want to do'. I can break the rules basically. It has definitely taken a bit off my shoulders. I can just go out and express myself on the pitch.


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“I knew myself that I hadn’t been performing to the level that I know I’m capable of. Knowing that I have got the backing of my manager is the biggest thing that I need to help me going forward. The chat we had helped me to move forward. Now I am reaping the rewards.

“I don’t want to talk too highly of myself. As the season goes on people can judge me. But I would say there is more to come.”