What is Celtic's strongest XI with everyone fit?

By David Walton

September 29, 2018

Everyone will have a different opinion on Celtic’s strongest XI.

The likes of Scott Brown, Craig Gordon, and Kieran Tierney will be in everyone’s no doubt. Then you have the likes of Scott Sinclair, Jack Hendry, and Jonny Hayes that surely aren’t in anyone’s.

Before every game, we all have a different idea of how the team should be set up. That then seems to change on a weekly-basis considering who performed in the previous fixture.

Here, we take a look at what Celtic’s strongest XI truly is when everyone is fit (in our own opinion):


Craig Gordon is Celtic’s only top-quality goalkeeper (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

This is a pretty straightforward decision for everyone. Gordon has been Celtic’s number one over the last four years now, and has been a terrific acquisition.

There are big question marks around whether he still has the same composure he once had. His decision-making can often come across to the Celtic supporters as crazy at times. Some erratic distribution combined with questionable shot-stopping on occasion has him split with most supporters.

In truth, however, he’s the best goalkeeper at the club by some distance.

Scott Bain failed to seize his chance last season, losing some terrible goals towards the end of it. Dorus de Vries doesn’t even deserve a mention these days.

Gordon is an easy choice, and any Celtic fan with half a brain would agree with that one.


Dedryck Boyata remains the club’s best defender (Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Assuming Celtic are playing their regular 4-2-3-1 system, the two centre-backs have to be Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer. Filip Benkovic will still be in people’s minds, but we’ve barely seen him. Perhaps he’ll turn out to be a star, but he’s not as of yet.

When Celtic are at their best defensively, they have these two playing. The likes of Jozo Simunovic and Hendry are just too error-prone these days. Handry gave us a woeful reminder of that against Kilmarnock.

Down the right, is has to be Mikael Lustig. This is more of a damning indictment of where Celtic are in that position than a compliment to Lustig’s quality. The only other alternative is Cristian Gamboa, who barely features and is never consistent.

Anthony Ralston is only just back on loan, and isn’t anywhere near as good as Lustig. This is an area Celtic should desperately be looking to strengthen, but for now they have to stick with the Swede.

Tierney has and always will pick himself down the left. He’s one of the best talents that Celtic as a club have ever produced. He’s also one of Celtic’s best attacking threats at the same time. He’ll never be dropped and never should be.


Scott Brown is Brendan Rodgers’ general (Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Scott Brown will always be in the midfield as one of the defensive two. Rodgers has him as his general, and he’s certainly performed tremendously well under the Northern Irishman.

He remains Celtic’s leader, and despite going through a slump in form, will always be their main man.

Alongside him, as it stands, Olivier Ntcham remains the best partner for Brown.

Ntcham has been terrific for Celtic over the last 12 months or so he’s been at the club. His range of passing is sensational, and whilst his form is erratic at times, on his day he’s the best partner for Brown.

James Forrest down the right and Callum McGregor down the left should occupy the wide areas. Lewis Morgan was thoroughly impressive in his cameo against Killie also. He provided a good display against Alashkert in the Champions League before injury too.

The left-wing slot is certainly up for grabs with Scott Sinclair so badly off-form. Morgan, however, is another we haven’t seen enough of.

Mikey Johnston will fancy his chances of taking the left-wing slot, but he’s too raw at the moment. McGregor has been proven to be a success in that area, and is such a talisman in the big games for Rodgers.

In the number 10 slot, there’s no better than Tom Rogic on his game. The problem at the moment is the fact that he isn’t.

When he’s in form, however, he’s a joy to watch. Consistently weaving past players and spraying superb passes and shots around with his wand of a left-foot, he’s amazing to watch. There’s a reason much fan-fare was to be had when he signed a new contract. Celtic had kept a genuinely top-class footballer at the club.

He is much better than Ryan Christie when on-form, and nobody can take that jersey off him when he’s on his game.


Leigh Griffiths has scored in so many big games for Celtic (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Given that only one could be chosen, we would have to go for Leigh Griffiths over Odsonne Edouard.

It feels as though 50% of the Celtic supporters would agree with us and 50% wouldn’t. Edouard after all was the £9million arrival over the summer, and remains the club’s record signing in terms of an outlay.

So far, however, what’s he truly done at the club? A few qualifying goals in Europe against Rosenborg and Alashkert is hardly scintillating. Domestically, he’s been quite frankly atrocious this season so far. So much so that Griffiths has had to come in and halt some of the criticism Rodgers has been receiving.

Edouard is still raw, and will be a huge talent in the future. Griffiths, however, is the man who knows where the net is at the moment. There’s only one player who should have the striker’s jersey at this stage in time, and that’s Griff.