Michael Stewart identifies Hearts danger man for Celtic ahead of final

By John McGinley

December 20, 2020

Michael Stewart has identified Josh Ginnelly as the Hearts danger man Celtic need to wary of in this afternoon’s Scottish Cup Final.

The winger has only played six times for the Edinburgh side before today’s fixture, but Stewart reckons he has the pace and skill to exploit Celtic down our left flank.

Ginnelly is on loan from Preston North End. He doesn’t have much English Championship experience, however, spending most of his career performing in League One, Two and the National League.

Stewart still thinks he’s the man to do damage, stating in his Scottish Sun column: “Up front, Liam Boyce has the nous and ability to exploit a fragile Celtic defence. But, for me, Josh Ginnelly holds the key to Hearts’ chances of lifting silverware at Hampden.

“That might come as a surprise given the Preston loanee has only started four games for the club due to injury. But the winger offers Hearts a different dimension and his assets will be vital against Celtic.

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“Ginnelly’s pace and power can be a real asset against Celtic — but he’s no use to his team 30 yards from his own goal. He needs to play high and if that means asking midfielders to do extra work, then so be it.”

The Celtic plan

It sounds like either Diego Laxalt or Greg Taylor will have quite a task then. It’s unclear who the manager will opt for at left-back.

Laxalt has been the consistent pick over the last couple of months. However, Taylor performed well against Kilmarnock last week and isn’t easily beat by opposition wingers.

Stewart has identified that side as Celtic’s big weakness whoever plays, going on to say: “Regardless of which defensive system Celtic go for, Ginnelly has the ability to hurt them. Neil Lennon has gone with a back four recently and must decide between Diego Laxalt and Greg Taylor at left-back.

“I’m not totally convinced by the Uruguayan defensively yet — but whoever plays, there will be space to exploit. Celtic full-backs are always expected to play like wingers and join in attacks. There will be moments when Hearts win the ball and get the chance to break quickly.”

Celtic have to do fans proud

In honesty, if Celtic can’t deal with a player of Ginnelly’s profile, then we probably don’t deserve to win the cup anyway.

We have a team full of internationals, most of whom are born winners. The team need to do supporters proud today. It’s been a difficult season.

Neil Lennon has the weapons at his disposal to punish Hearts, not the other way around.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

I’m not saying it’s going to be a walkover, or should be. Hampden matches are difficult, and Hearts are a Premiership-calibre team despite their current station.

However, we are favourites for a reason. We need to live up to that billing and secure the historic Quadruple Treble.

Bring it on!

In other news, Neil Lennon thinks Celtic defender Christopher Jullien deserves more recognition.