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Former Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty has issued a challenge to Celtic, just days after returning to Scottish football with Hearts.

The 29-year-old, who joined the Edinburgh side on a two-year deal after being released by Norwich City, wasted no time before declaring high ambitions for himself and his new club.

Lafferty has his mind set on silverware in the 2017-18 season and believes Hearts can be Celtic’s main title challengers.

The Northern Ireland international striker insisted the Jambos are more than capable of making sure the Hoops have to work hard in the new campaign and that they are well-placed to finish above Rangers.

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“Can we challenge Celtic? One hundred per cent,” he told the Scottish Sun.

“I wouldn’t have joined the club if I thought we would finish fourth or fifth or sixth or in the bottom half. We have a squad good enough to challenge for second.”

Lafferty, who left Ibrox Stadium under something of a cloud five years ago, also had a thinly-veiled dig at his former club.

“Nobody knows how Rangers are going to be. They’ve made a few signings but we don’t know how they will shape up,” he continued.

“Scotland and Glasgow is a tough, tough place to play football and a lot of big names in the past have come up and not produced.

“You have to have something about you to perform in Scotland.

“I’m sure these foreign players are excellent but we don’t know how they are going to perform.”

No stranger to controversy, Lafferty has upset fans of his new club’s Edinburgh rivals, being branded as disrespectful for leaving Hibernian manager Neil Lennon in the lurch when he signed for Hearts.

Lafferty does not care if Hoops, Gers and Hibs fans make him a hate figure, but he is keen to win over former haters among Hearts supporters and hopes his attitude will help to do that.

“I’ve come here to be fighting at the top end of the table,” he concluded.

“Can we win the league? Who knows. We’ve got an excellent team with young players and senior pros.”