Today’s a major test for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic, travelling away to rivals Rangers for the first derby of the Scottish Premiership season.
After two negative results against Kilmarnock and St Johnstone, every supporter is hoping there will be a reaction from the team this afternoon – and a much better result.
Victory, or even a draw, won’t come easy and the manager faces a number of big selection calls that will define the afternoon and ultimately discussion around the game.
But which team will he go with? Who plays and who misses out, will any new Bhoys make their debut and what’s going on with that defence? Here’s our best go at today’s eleven…
Joe Hart will continue as the club’s number-one goalkeeper this season, starting today. There was much speculation about the club signing a new shot-stopper in the summer transfer window but that didn’t transpire.
Alistair Johnston played an hour last week against St Johnstone and looked strong – assuredly he is an upgrade on Anthony Ralston. He’ll continue his comeback from injury today at right-back. On the opposite flank, Greg Taylor is the main contender to start ahead of Alexandro Bernabei.
The centre of defence is where things may get interesting. Celtic completed the short-term loan signing of Nat Phillips through the week and if he’s fit enough he’ll get the nod over Liam Scales. The Liverpool man has only trained with at Lennoxtown on a couple of occasions but starting Scales would surely be riskier. Gustaf Lagerbielke is likely to partner with whoever gets the nod.
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There are big calls to make in midfield, too. Plenty of supporters reckon starting David Turnbull would be a mistake today up against a physical and aggressive Rangers midfield at Ibrox. The question is, who starts in his place?
Reo Hatate is injured and this game might be coming just a bit too soon for deadline day signing Paolo Bernardo. That leaves a three of Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley and Odin Thiago Holm to compete. With Turnbull and possibly Bernardo on the bench, Rodgers will have the chance to change things up mid-match if needed.
In attack, Liel Abada could be fancied on the right wing having already broken Rangers hearts on multiple occasions with his sharp finishing. Hyunjun Yang and Daizen Maeda are the main contenders to start on the left and we’ve gone for the South Korean given Maeda’s difficulties in the early stages of the campaign. New Bhoy Luis Palma has trained with the team but is more likely to make his debut off the bench than in the starting eleven.
All of that will be in support of Kyogo Furuhashi through the middle, who also knows his way to go against the Ibrox outfit.
Your Predicted XI in full: Hart, Johnston, Lagerbielke, Phillips, Taylor, McGregor, Holm, O’Riley, Abada, Yang, Kyogo.