Scott Brown says Celtic will be under even more pressure to retain the Scottish Premier League title, despite the absence of Rangers from the top flight.
Charles Green’s newco were refused entry to the division in a vote of clubs last week, and now face another vote this Friday to be placed in either Division One or Three.
Given their financial superiority over other SPL clubs, Celtic are expected to win the league with ease. Brown though believes other sides will mount a genuine title challenge.
"It will be a little bit different, but at the end of the day we still have to go out there and play every game," Brown told Celtic's official website.
"It's always hard playing at home and even harder going away to teams like Aberdeen and Hearts. We have to make sure we keep our form week in, week out.
"I think Dundee United could emerge as the main contenders. Hearts have released a lot of their players and Dundee United will take a lot of confidence from that.
"St Johnstone have pretty much the same squad just now as they did last season so I think they will be another strong force."
Celtic’s first focus ahead of the SPL season will be to try and qualify for the Champions League group stages and Brown says it would be a lift to everyone if they could make it through.
"It would be great for the fans," he said. “Hearing the music and then all the fans cheering - you don't get much bigger than that, they're the best nights you can have at Celtic Park.
"It's bigger than the derbies and it's bigger than any games I think most of the players in the squad will have ever played in.
"I don't think many of them have played in the Champions League so they will be looking forward to seeing a full Celtic Park on those nights.
"And the fans will be massive for us in those games. We have struggled in qualifiers in recent years, but the players know each other a lot better now and with the fans as well I think we can do well this year."
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