First start in 4 months, midfield refresh; Celtic Predicted XI vs Ross County
Celtic travel to Ross County this afternoon hoping to end the weekend as they started it – six points clear of rivals Rangers.
The Ibrox side won away to Motherwell on Saturday meaning the gap currently sits at three, but Ange Postecoglou’s Bhoys have the chance to again stamp authority on the title race.
That won’t be easy with a motivated home side in Dingwall pushing for European football.
However, everyone knows Celtic have the quality to win with the right team selection, tactics and performance.
What eleven will the manager go with today? Here’s our best guess…
Joe Hart will be between the sticks as usual given his importance to Postecoglou’s side. However, the four-man defence in front of him will look slightly different.
Anthony Ralston is expected to come in for the injured Josip Juranovic, joining Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor.
In midfield, captain Callum McGregor is on hand to lead the Bhoys into the fixture. The blend of more attacking players in front of him, however, could significantly change.
After the woes at Hampden, many supporters are hoping for a midfield refresh and there are multiple ways the manager can go with it.
I have a sneaking suspicion David Turnbull might be involved from the start today. He’s not featured in an eleven for over four months. However, he’s come off the substitute’s bench on the last four occasions after injury and was very much trusted by the manager in the first half of the season.
I also reckon it’s time to see what Matt O’Riley is made of from the start again. He hasn’t been selected in the manager’s midfield since the Scottish Cup win at Tannadice in March.
Both Tom Rogic and Reo Hatate are available, but these changes could bring a bit of a spark to today’s performance, with the duo then able to make an impact from the bench.
Some will argue for a more defensive midfielder to come in and push Callum McGregor further forward, but Celtic are expected to dominate possession today and we need as many creative talents in the line-up as possible.
Besides, from his posts on Instagram this week, it doesn’t look as if Nir Bitton has travelled with the squad.
I’m going for Daizen Maeda and Jota on the flanks, leaving the manager’s last big decision of the day in the centre-forward position.
Kyogo’s fitness is improving all the time but I am hoping we see the return of Giorgos Giakoumakis after missing Sunday’s semi-final. The Greek striker has been instrumental over the last couple of months and it leaves his Japanese teammate to come into the match in the second half to create a bit of attacking havoc.
Your predicted line-up in full is: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, O’Riley, Turnbull, Jota, Maeda, Giakoumakis.