Nightmare for Saints, Kyogo call; Celtic Predicted XI vs St Johnstone

By John McGinley

April 9, 2022

Celtic host St Johnstone today in the Scottish Premiership knowing they can move nine points clear of rivals Rangers. However, the Bhoys also know that today’s visitors will be as motivated a side that has come to Celtic Park this season.

Saints still aren’t safe from relegation at the bottom of the table, both in terms of an automatic drop and the play-off with a Championship side. A result today at Paradise would be huge for them to bring into the post-split fixtures.

Celtic need to be as up for this one as they were last week at Ibrox and that starts with the manager getting his team selection spot on.

Here’s our go at today’s XI…

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Joe Hart is a certainty to start in goal and I’m not expecting any changes to the defensive line. Josip Juranovic, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor are all functioning well right now and have come out of the Ibrox trip with plaudits.

Likewise, Callum McGregor is almost impossible to replace as that ‘number 6’ deep-lying playmaker. He’s in imperious form and his leadership in this final handful of games is going to be massive.

I’ve gone for Tom Rogic and Reo Hatate as the midfield two in front of McGregor. Rogic was outstanding against Rangers and having been taken off on the hour mark should be fresh for this one.

Dermot Desmond breaks cover as Celtic aim to go nine points clear | Celtic vs St. Johnstone Preview

Dermot Desmond breaks cover as Celtic aim to go nine points clear | Celtic vs St. Johnstone Preview
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

We’re also starting to see signs of Hatate getting back to his early form at the Bhoys. He gives everything to the Celtic cause and that initial energy will be key today. We can always sub him off if he gets tired.

Daizen Maeda will surely get the nod on the left flank. Maeda can be St Johnstone’s nightmare today, just as he has been for other opposition teams over the last few weeks. His pressing is incredible and torturous for the other team. Again, we’ll need that workrate today to keep the Bhoys energised and in the match.

Jota is fit and available to continue his creative work on the right flank which leaves the big decision to be made through the middle.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Kyogo Furuhashi has been training with Celtic for around ten days and is a contender to start today’s match but I reckon the manager will continue with Giorgos Giakoumakis.

The Japanese star has been out for over three months so it makes sense to introduce him gradually back into the team and a half-hour appearance off the bench in the second half sounds good.

We know Giakoumakis can be trusted, so there’s no reason to rush Kyogo back. Get him involved with an ovation from the crowd and unleash next week against Rangers.

Your Predicted XI in full is: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, Rogic, Jota, Maeda, Giakoumakis.