Bhoys are back in town: Predicted Celtic XI against Preston North End

By Euan Davidson

July 16, 2021

When the Celtic starting XI against Preston North End is announced tomorrow, it means more.

Don’t get us wrong, there’s no long-established rivalry with Preston, as far as I can tell. Nor is it that our opposition represent a significant step-up from what we’ve faced in pre-season to this point.

No, it’s more that Ange Postecoglou can go one of two ways with this. He can name an experimental line-up, give some rest to key players, and slowly introduce bigger names throughout.

Or, more likely, the Greek-Aussie boss will carefully ponder his selection tomorrow, with an eye on Tuesday night. It’s a chance for (something close to) his best team to gel to his system before his first real big test as Celtic boss.

Who makes it into our predicted XI for tomorrow, then?

Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Celtic boss to err on side of caution against Preston?

The defence is undoubtedly the scariest part of the pitch, from a Celtic fan’s perspective.

We really would’ve hoped for more signings in this department by now. Osaze Urhoghide has arrived from Sheffield Wednesday, but noise over moves for Carl Starfelt, Brandon Soppy, Sacha Boey and Mario Vuskovic has quietened in recent days.

There are also some injury concerns to deal with. So, it should be Scott Bain starting between the sticks. Bain frustrates Celtic supporters, but against Bristol City he showed more of an understanding of what Postecoglou wants from a goalkeeper.

Happy to take possession, co-ordinate the defensive line and unbeaten in Bristol, Bain is likely to start again tomorrow. Vasilis Barkas, to our knowledge, won’t have recovered in time to play 90 minutes this weekend.

In front of him? We’re thinking Greg Taylor, Stephen Welsh, Osaze Urhoghide and Anthony Ralston to constitute the Bhoys defence. To start with, at the very least.

It’s a very youthful back four, that’s for sure. Still, performances in pre-season have been relatively encouraging. Preston represent a sterner test, and it remains to be seen whether Anthony Ralston in particular is ready for an extended run in the team.

Celtic Predicted XI: A midfield that picks itself

It seems pretty inconceivable by now that Postecoglou won’t pick a midfield trio of Callum McGregor, Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull.

In what will essentially be a dress rehearsal for Tuesday night, and the 21-22 season at large, don’t expect any shocking choices. Celtic supporters haven’t actually seen David Turnbull play for us in the flesh yet; bizarre, considering he was last season’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.

The trio need to build a heightened understanding as the vital cogs in Postecoglou’s system. The running and energy of McGregor and Soro, the creative industry of David Turnbull; all are cornerstones of what Postecoglou is building at Celtic.

Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Bongarts/Getty Images

New faces for Celtic against Preston?

With Mikey Johnston and Karamoko Dembelé limping off against Bristol City, it would be a surprise to see either start tomorrow evening.

With that in mind, “Happiest man in the world” Liel Abada could be called upon to start for Celtic against Preston North End tomorrow. The Israeli international is in top shape, saying he’s “ready” to play for the Bhoys ASAP [Celtic FC]. That bodes well for us, considering.

That’ll be on the right-wing. As for the left, we think Adam Montgomery will get a chance to continue his impressive form. More naturally a left-back, Montgomery has dovetailed to decent effect with Greg Taylor down the left-hand side.

Having been introduced late into last season, Montgomery has quickly become a popular name in the Celtic support. His willingness to track back, move into the centre when needs be, and his general industriousness make him a fun player to watch.

Up front, there’s still uncertainty over Odsonne Edouard. With that in mind, it’ll surely be Albian Ajeti to lead the line in front of 2,000 Celtic supporters tomorrow.

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