SCOTT Sinclair last night claimed Celtic still have the strongest squad in Scotland – and predicted that intense competition for places will give them a vital edge in the title race in the coming months.

New loan signings Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah both made their debuts for the Parkhead club in their 3-0 victory over Airdrie in the William Hill Scottish Cup on Saturday.

Weah, the United States internationalist who has joined from Paris Saint-Germain until the end of the season, netted shortly after coming off the bench in the second-half.

However, Sinclair bagged a double to take his tally for the 2018/19 campaign to 11 in all competitions and ensure Brendan Rodgers’s side went through to the last 16.

The Englishman admitted the arrival of Burke and Weah as well as Vakoun Issouf Bayo, whose signing is expected to be completed in the coming days, will help Celtic greatly in the second half of the season.

Rangers - who are level on points with their city rivals, who have a game in hand, at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership table – have brought in big name players Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe during the January transfer window.

But asked if he thought Celtic still had the strongest squad, Sinclair said: “Yes, I would say so. The manager has brought in players and it creates good, healthy competition. It keeps everyone on their toes and it makes sure that everyone keeps performing. So it’s good for everyone.

“It makes for great impact for us. You saw Tim’s pace when he came off the bench and obviously he added a goal as well. He’s sharp, he’s got skill, and it’s great to see.

“He’s at a new club and he’s keen to do well. And it is the same with Olly – he is a powerhouse and he is just as quick, and I’m sure we’ll see more of him as well.

“I’m still hungry. I just concentrate on my game and keep performing. That’s all I can do. For us, it is all about battling and all about competing. It all comes from our training. We’re all hungry – just as hungry as we were in our first season. But it is up to us to perform.”

Sinclair also welcomed the return of Nir Bitton, the Israeli midfielder who has been sidelined since February with a knee injury, in the Airdrie game.

“It is great to see Nir back,” he said. “He’s got great attributes for the team. When he comes in, he’s got that range of passing. It’s great for the whole team that he is back, and for competition.”

Cetic return to league action on Wednesday night when they host struggling St Mirren at Parkhead and Sinclair is keen to help the double treble winners return to winning ways.

But he stressed the defending champions had put their painful 1-0 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox last month firmly behind them and were only concentrating on going on an extended winning run.

“That’s gone now,” he said. “We’ve forgotten that. All we can do is look forward to our games. Anything that happened last year, or in the past, is behind us.

“We’ve got loads of games coming up and it’s about performance. It’s about performing and winning. Every game we go into, we must win.

“But at the same time we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’ve just got to take every game as it comes to make sure, like I said, we get results and we keep performing.”

Meanwhile, Sinclair stressed he would still accept responsibility for penalties despite having a spot kick saved in the first-half of the Airdrie match. The winger was also denied in the Betfred Cup final against Aberdeen at the start of last month.

But he said: “I’ve taken some important penalties since I’ve been here, I can think of numerous occasions. I’ll always step up, I’ve always got that confidence, and the next time I’ll put it away.

“The goalkeeper went the right way and made a great save. But, like I say, the next time I take a penalty I’ll put it away.”