Alan Hutton believes that an empty Celtic Park will “even the playing field” for Rangers ahead of the first Old Firm of the season.

The former Gers defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists that the lack of crowds will make a “massive difference” when the Glasgow giants meet on Saturday, 17 October.

Fans are set to be absent from the Parkhead stands for the first derby day of the new campaign after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to that plans to allow supporters back into stadiums had been pushed back.

Rangers currently sit one point ahead of Neil Lennon’s men at the top of the Premiership table but have played a game more than their fierce rivals.

Hutton believes both sides have a chance to send a big message to their near neighbours and that the empty stands could play into Rangers’ hands.

Hutton told Football Insider: “It’s one I’m really looking forward to because either team could go and lay down a marker and even though it’s at Parkhead, I still believe that no fans there makes a massive difference.

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“It kind of evens out the playing field, in my opinion, so it’s a great opportunity for both teams to put down a marker.”

Rangers won the last meeting between the clubs as goals from Ryan Kent and Nikola Katic sealed a 2-1 victory at Parkhead.

However, the Hoops did come out on top in the Scottish League Cup final last year thanks to a penalty save from Fraser Forster and the winner from Christopher Jullien.

In other Celtic news, the Hoops have been tipped to revisit a move for Premier League star in January.