NEIL Lennon has described Rangers’ disciplinary record this season as “embarrassing” for the Ibrox club and warned his Celtic players not to be “token hard men” in the Old Firm game this afternoon.

Steven Gerrard will be without his first-choice keeper Allan McGregor today after he picked up his side’s 12th red card of the 2018/19 campaign for kicking out at Hibernian striker Marc McNulty last week.

The last meeting between the Glasgow rivals at Parkhead in March ended in an on-field brawl when Andy Halliday, the Rangers left back, lunged at Scott Brown, the Celtic captain, following the final whistle.

Lennon has pledged that his team will take advantage of what he perceives is a major failing in their opponents if the opportunity arises in their penultimate Ladbrokes Premiership fixture in Govan today.

However, he has stressed to his charges, who will only have around 800 fans cheering them on in the 50,000-strong crowd, the importance of not being drawn in to needless confrontations themselves.

“If there is a chink there then we’ll prey on it,” he said. “Discipline is important in the game, in this fixture, and our players have handled it very, very well.

“I can’t speak for the opposition, but I think the last game proved there is a lack of discipline within their ranks. And its not just been our games, it’s been apparent all season. It’s embarrassing really.

“Discipline is important. Listen, our discipline is very, very good. It is important we play aggressively, but in a controlled fashion. I want us to be aggressive with the ball and play with a purpose. I want us to affect their back four as much as we can.

“It’s very easy (to get caught up in the atmosphere). It is the environment, it is the two tribes, it is the pride, it is all those things rolled into one. If you play on the edge – which a lot of players do and you don’t want to take that away from them - sometimes it is very easy for even the most mild-mannered of players to lose it.

“I don’t want any token hard men out there. I want them to be well-disciplined and motivated. There might be bad moments in the game. We need to make sure we withstand that and are a threat at the other end.

“But the players have been outstanding. Their mentality has been brilliant. Whenever we have had a big game they have responded in the right way time and time again. I think they are looking forward to the game as much as me.”

McGregor has been one of Rangers’ best players this season, but Lennon feels his counterpart Gerrard will be able to cope without the former Scotland internationalist.

“He is an outstanding goalkeeper Allan, but I think Wes Foderingham is a very capable deputy,” he said. “How much that changes their approach I don’t know. It may be a bonus for us, but that would be doing Wes a disservice saying that. He has been a very good goalkeeper for Rangers for a long time. It’s not really coming into our thinking.”

Celtic sewed up their eighth consecutive Scottish title last weekend when they defeated Aberdeen 3-0 at Pittodrie and can now win a third consecutive domestic treble if they beat Hearts in the William Hill Scottish Cup at Hampden later this month.

But Lennon, who has been helping the Parkhead recruitment team identify signing targets even though he is unsure if he will be kept on as manager beyond the final, insists that they can get even better next season after they have strengthened this summer.

Asked if he thought Rangers would be better next season, he said: "I'm not sure. We will be. I guarantee you that, but I can't comment on Rangers being stronger or not.

"There's a bit of rebuilding to be done, there's no question of that. Like all great teams, they have a cycle and then there's a turnover and we're at that stage now where they needs to be an injection of quality and freshness into the squad. That's the general plan for next season.”