3 players to bag first pre-season minutes; Celtic Predicted XI vs Bristol City
Celtic will take on Bristol City in our third of five pre-season games on Wednesday night, and the Hoops will hopefully keep the winning run going.
So far we’ve watched Celtic comfortably dispatch both Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic in warm-up matches under Ange Postecoglou.
Sure, people will say it’s all about fitness. But let’s be honest, you and me both watch these matches to see the Hoops come out victorious. Winning breeds confidence, and that’s something the Celtic players will be generating under Postecoglou after their first two matches.
Their next challenge sees them travel to Championship club Bristol City. After two wins in Wales, Wednesday night’s game provides Celtic with the challenge of keeping the momentum going ahead of Saturday’s return to Celtic Park against Preston North End.
And considering we’re now only a week out from opening our UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign vs Midtjylland, expect a more familiar starting XI than we’ve seen in the first two matches.
A more senior look to Celtic starting XI vs Bristol City
I think it’s become clear that Vasilis Barkas has been identified by Postecoglou as his first-choice. It’s important he continues to get minutes ahead of next week’s game, and that’s why I expect him to be the in the starting XI for this one.
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Ahead of him, he’ll see two Celtic players make their first pre-season outings of the campaign. Both Boli Bolingoli and Kristoffer Ajer were in the training camp in Wales, but neither secured minutes. Whilst I expect Greg Taylor to start against Midtjylland, I can see Boli getting the nod here with Taylor coming on later in the contest.
Ajer will be partnered by Stephen Welsh, whilst Anthony Ralston hangs on to his right-back berth ahead of Lee O’Connor. Celtic have yet to strengthen at either centre-back or right-back despite the fact we urgently need reinforcements for both areas.
Even so, Postecoglou can only work with the players he’s got for now. Ralston, Welsh, Ajer, and Boli look best placed to get the nod here.
Ntcham in for Ismaila Soro; Tom Rogic to make first outing under Ange
Everyone will have a differing opinion on this one. However, I truly believe that Postecoglou may pull out Ismaila Soro and toss Olivier Ntcham into the mix against Bristol.
I don’t think the manager has fully figured out his best midfield. You can hardly blame him given he’s only into his third pre-season match. And that’s why I believe the chopping and changing will continue.
We all know Ntcham’s ability, and if it’s true that he’s ready to knuckle down and look to earn his spot again, Postecoglou will give him that chance. He’ll play alongside Callum McGregor in the central midfield spots as the Hoops look to experience.
Ahead of them comes the third player to play his first minutes under Postecoglou – Tom Rogic. If there’s even a smidge of chance that Tom can rediscover his golden touch under the new man, he’ll be given that opportunity.
We know what David Turnbull can do, but Rogic needs the minutes more than the Scotland international. Again, I believe Turnbull will join a host of other young players and back-up stars to get minutes as the game goes on.
But Rogic needs a good solid outing under his belt ahead of the competitive action. He didn’t played against Sheffield Wednesday or Charlton, so the time feels right to feature him in Bristol.
Electric energy in the final third, but Ajeti to get a rest
When it comes to wingers we’re extremely thin on the ground. Even if we sign someone over the next 24 hours, he’ll hardly be thrown in for tomorrow night’s game.
Therefore, on the left wing, Mikey Johnston will be given another chance to shine. Mikey was one of the only bright spots of the second half against Charlton. He’ll be looking to build up his fitness after minimal appearances last season. Celtic need him fit and firing for Midtjylland next week.
On the right, with James Forrest missing, it looks like the ideal opportunity for Karamoko Dembele to stake his claim. After netting against Charlton on Saturday, it’s important he’s another that gets more minutes into his legs.
I think we’re genuinely looking at Johnston and Dembele featuring against Midtjylland next week to provide our wide threat. That is of course James Forrest makes a recovery. But Postecoglou can’t hang his hat on that.
One player who seems like he’ll definitely feature next week is Odsonne Edouard. He limped off during the win against Charlton, with the manager saying he was feeling his quad tighten up [Scottish Sun]. It’s not clear if he’ll be fit for the Bristol match, but if he is, Postecoglou will want to get some more minutes into his legs too.
Yes, that means a rest from the starting XI for Ajeti who has two goals in two games. Like many, however, he’ll make an appearance at some stage