I’m actually pretty excited about tonight’s Celtic game against Cluj in the Europa League.
It’s not often we go into a match with the pressure off and the ability to enjoy a game of football just for what it is – entertainment.
There’s usually some sort of peril involved, be it potentially dropping points in a title race, losing a derby or missing out on European progress.
However, the stellar work of Neil Lennon’s Bhoys means that we’ve already qualified for the knockout stages as group winners. The only things up for grabs tonight are a bit of prize cash, co-efficient points and pride.
The manager had decided to prioritise player fitness and health over that, as he should, leaving a number of his big stars at home.
Lennon’s team news
He confirmed that in his pre-match press conference.
As quoted by The Scottish Sun, he said: “Fraser Forster, Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie and Tom Rogic didn’t travel and are unavailable tomorrow night.
“We are going to use the squad for this game and in this busy month, some players need game time and it’s an ideal situation to give the players that extra motivation.”
Also namechecking young talents like Scott Robertson, Karamoko Dembele and Grant Savoury, it’s clear that it’ll be a pretty different looking team taking to the pitch.
There have also been reports this morning that Robertson is the most likely of that trio to play tonight, potentially making a senior debut in the midfield alongside Olivier Ntcham, who will captain the side.
All signs also point to Leigh Griffiths returning to the starting eleven for the first time in nearly four months. The last match he featured in from the start was against Dunfermline in the Scottish League Cup.
However, he does appear to be returning to fitness, making substitute appearances against Livingston, Rennes, Ross County and Hamilton in recent weeks.
It was his excellent touch that allowed play to develop for Scott Brown’s dramatic and vital winner against Accies.
With so many question marks around his Celtic future, it’d be fantastic to see him play and perform well at Europa League level.
Anything else to note?
Elsewhere there are potential minutes available for Nir Bitton, Craig Gordon and Scott Sinclair, according to BBC Scotland.
While James Forrest made the trip and wasn’t specifically mentioned by Lennon as a player who won’t play, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lewis Morgan return to a wide role.
It also seems unlikely that Christopher Jullien will feature. If he picks up a yellow card he would miss our Round of 32 first leg.
Boli Bolingoli was also the player on media duties in Romania and having returned to the bench for Sunday’s cup win, could come into the starting team.
Your predicted team in full is: Gordon, Bauer, Bitton, Ajer, Bolingoli, Ntcham, Robertson, Morgan, Johnston, Sinclair, Griffiths.