Predicted Celtic XI vs Motherwell

By David Walton

February 24, 2019

When it comes to our predicted XI vs Motherwell, it leaves us with an intriguing decision to make.

Brendan Rodgers wasn’t scared to seriously mix things up against Valencia. The Hoops played with three centre-backs and two advanced full-backs against the La Liga side. It worked a treat until Jeremy Toljan was sent packing, but is it likely to be used this afternoon?

Unlikely if you ask us. It was a horses for courses approach from Rodgers. Something different to try in what was effectively a free hit for Celtic. The reality of today, meanwhile, is that it’s a must-win.

So let’s delve right in and give it a shot as to who will welcome Motherwell to Parkhead.

Scott Bain had a fine evening at the Mestalla (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

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Scott Bain stepped it up a gear on Thursday night. On his 10th consecutive appearance, he pretty much confirmed he’s the new number one with a series of top saves at the Mestalla. He’ll be hoping his 11th outing in a row goes much quieter this afternoon.

Toljan was unfortunate against Valencia to be sent off, but he’ll likely be back in the side again too.

The major talking point of the day, however, is the potential return of Kieran Tierney. The Scotland international has been on the mend since a hip injury struck him down at the tail-end of last year. It’s looking more and more like he’ll make his first appearance since December’s 2-1 home defeat to Red Bull Salzburg.

All three centre-backs were heroic on Thursday night. Choosing just two of them will be harsh on whoever is dropped. Expect that man to be Jozo Simunovic. Given the fact Boyata seems to be first-choice centre-back, it’s likely he’ll play alongside Kristoffer Ajer – another star of the show.

Kristoffer Ajer had another fine evening in Spain (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Scott Brown and Callum McGregor should start as they always do, with James Forrest continuing his run in the team down the right.

No place for Sinky?

Scott Sinclair was dropped against Valencia, and not before time. For every hat-trick against St Johnstone, there are a few stinkers afterwards.

Nobody knows whether Sinclair’s omission is going to be permanent. Considering the form of Jonny Hayes, however, he certainly deserves a run down the left instead of the Englishman.

Ryan Christie was another workhorse in Valencia. He needed to show something after several quiet outings, and he did. He came so close to setting up Ajer for the opener at the Mestalla, but the Norwegian screwed his header off-target.

Oliver Burke could do with a rest this afternoon (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Oliver Burke ran himself into the ground on Thursday night too. Therefore, it could be a 50-50 decision involving Timothy Weah and Odsonne Edouard today. We’ll go for the latter given he came on as a sub on Thursday.

And in Rodgers’ shock decision of the day, we’re going to say Karamoko Dembele make his first senior squad appearance. The teen sensation turned 16 during the week, and whether Rodgers throws him into his first-ever senior squad is up in the air. We’re going to have a stab and say it will happen.

Here’s our full predicted XI in list form:

GK – Scott Bain

RB – Jeremy Toljan

CB – Kristoffer Ajer

CB – Dedryck Boyata

LB – Kieran Tierney

CM – Scott Brown

CM – Callum McGregor

RM – James Forrest

CAM – Ryan Christie

LM – Jonny Hayes

ST – Odsonne Edouard