Ange Postecoglou explains his big Celtic team decisions for Hearts clash

By Euan Davidson

December 2, 2021

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has explained his choices behind tonight’s line-up against Hearts.

There were some surprises, with Nir Bitton and Cameron Carter-Vickers expected to start against the Jambos.

However, Carl Starfelt made a return from injury, with James Forrest and Tom Rogic also making Ange’s first XI.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The Celtic boss confirmed that Cameron Carter-Vickers, who’s played every available minute prior to tonight, was out with a personal issue.

Postecoglou emphasised the importance of having a deep squad, ahead of a game he refused to build up.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Ange Postecoglou said [BBC, 19.27]:

“Carl [Starfelt] and Tommy [Rogic] have been out for a while, but trained well and [are] ready to go. So I’m keen to get them back in the team. James [Forrest is] back from an interrupted spell for him, so good to get him started again.

“We’ve got so many games coming up, we’ve got some people off the bench who can make a difference as well. It’s going to be important. We’re going to need to a squad to get through the series of games.”

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Some surprises in the Celtic line-up against Hearts tonight, but they’re generally good ones

Having Carl Starfelt back is a huge plus. Before his injury, the Sweden international was coming on to a game in the Celtic defence. It tells the story in itself that the Hoops had only conceded one league goal at home with him in the side.

Equally, it’s encouraging to see James Forrest back in the side. He was desperately unlucky not to score in the opening 15 minutes, with a rebound coming to him too quickly.

As for Tom Rogic, the channels between the midfield and star striker Kyogo told the difference. The passing to the front from the middle is so much better with him in the team.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In a frenetic, end-to-end first half, Postecoglou’s choices paid off. Starfelt looked confident passing the ball, and dealt well with any threat. Stemming a counter-attack, whipping the ball away from Josh Ginnelly, showed he wasn’t lacking sharpness.

He was also able to a great clearance from a Hearts corner, while being dragged to the ground.

Forrest, who enjoys these games against Hearts, looked sharp as he patrolled the right. A blossoming partnership with Anthony Ralston put real pressure on the Jambos throughout the first half.

Some of the pace that had been lacking in recent games, particularly in the midfield, came back. There was little surprise when the pressure told, and Kyogo made the difference.

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