Ange's big midfield call, time to shine up front: Celtic Predicted XI v St Mirren

By Euan Davidson

March 2, 2022

At times, writing a Celtic Predicted XI under Ange Postecoglou can be a bit like putting together a puzzle, and tonight against St Mirren is no exception.

Granted, the line-up against Hibernian at the weekend generally picked itself. Only, though, because of the unorthodox selection Postecoglou made against Bodo/Glimt that, unfortunately, didn’t work out.

With European competition away though, the pace of the schedule hasn’t slowed one iota. It’s back to business, so soon after our trip to Easter Road, with Stephen Robinson’s St Mirren coming from Paisley to meet the league leaders.

Photo by Ian Jacobs/MB Media

So, what big changes can we expect, if any? Will Postecoglou throw us a curveball?

As ever, it starts with Joe Hart. The English shot-stopper has been, as ever, pretty reliable between the sticks. Barring an odd moment involving his centre-backs, the former Manchester City man has been his typical self in recent weeks, even when his defence hasn’t been quite what it’s shown in months prior.

As for that defence, we’re thinking Josip Juranovic will start with Greg Taylor on the other side. The two seem to be the most comfortable choice for Ange Postecoglou currently, though Taylor will need to impress after some wayward performances in recent games.

In the middle, who else? Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, of course.

Ange set for Australia homecoming as Celtic make contact over Semenyo | Celtic vs St. Mirren Preview

Ange set for Australia homecoming as Celtic make contact over Semenyo | Celtic vs St. Mirren Preview
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Celtic Predicted XI v St Mirren: The Return of O’Riley to starting line-up?

Meanwhile in midfield, we’re hoping for a combination of Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley, the latter of whom will come in for Tom Rogic.

The Australian has been sensational this season, and it’s testament to his fitness and work-rate that he’s played so often this season. To have him amongst the regulars isn’t something we should take for granted. However, he’s looked a little off the pace in recent weeks. Against Hibernian, he had one of his poorer outings under Postecoglou, and he could probably use rest.

Enter £1.5m man O’Riley, then. Perhaps it sounds greedy, but you might’ve hoped to see more of this duo, O’Riley and Hatate, playing together for Celtic by now. The former Kawasaki Frontale man balances well on the left with O’Riley’s natural tendencies on the right. What’s more, we’ve seen O’Riley link up so well with Juranovic and our right-winger at Celtic Park this season.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

More please, and for that we’ll require Liel Abada, who’ll be to the right of Daizen Maeda and Jota.

Abada has, surprisingly or otherwise, amongst the most shots in the Scottish Premiership: he’s 3rd in the league, with 52 attempts on goal [SPFL]. Continuing his early 2022 form would be a real treat, and with Juranovic and O’Riley in the side, he’s well-placed for a strong showing.

Maeda, certainly, needs a goal or two. He’s looked less convincing over his last two games, albeit he’s played an entire season over 2021. In another timeline, he gets eased into the team, maybe even some rest. In this version of Celtic, though, that’s not a luxury we can afford.

Jota could use a better performance after struggling against Hibs on Sunday. But you’d back the beautifully-coiffed Portuguese winger to improve.

Here’s our Celtic Predicted XI against St Mirren:

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