Rotation on the menu, but no let-up; Celtic Predicted XI v St Mirren

By Euan Davidson

August 20, 2021

Celtic return to league action tomorrow, against a St Mirren side who impressed in 20-21 campaign, so writing a Predicted XI is a tad trickier this time.

Jim Goodwin’s charges finished 7th in the Scottish Premiership last time out [Eurosport], picking up some significant wins on the way. Buoyed by the form of players like Jamie McGrath, the Buddies were never a tie that last year’s Celtic necessarily relished.

Goodwin’s side have found it a little harder going so far this time round, however. A two-all draw with Dundee was followed by a loss to Hearts, then a League Cup exit to Livingston. To say they’ve started with a flourish would be overselling it to a significant extent.

Celtic, meanwhile, are flying. After losing against Hearts, the Bhoys have picked up 5 wins on the bounce. It’s not just that we’re winning, either; victories are coming from a full-on attacking style that has wowed supporters thus far.

On paper, this should be a routine win for Celtic. But after the travails of European competition, and still adapting to the new style under Postecoglou, it’d be daft to assume a result is automatic. Goodwin’s side, regardless of form, will make us earn it.

So, who starts this one? Here’s what we reckon.

Joe Hart is the new leader Celtic have been waiting for

Joe Hart is the new leader Celtic have been waiting for
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Changes in the defence for our Celtic Predicted XI

Joe Hart starts, obviously. No debate there.

Ahead of him, we’re expecting Adam Montgomery to step in for Greg Taylor. At times, against AZ Alkmaar, the Scotland left-back looked in need of a rest. No doubt, the ex-Killie man has the energy for sustained, aggressive football in a busy calendar.

But given the challenge facing us in the Netherlands this week, it might be prudent to rest him. Montgomery has impressed in cameo roles, and it would be great to see him start this one.

Alongside him, Stephen Welsh and Carl Starfelt need to build the working relationship that served them well on Wednesday night. Swapping sides habitually, and cutting out corners and set-pieces, the duo impressed me, at least. We’d expect to see them named in the first XI.

On the right? Barring a miracle medical so emphatic that he simply has to play, it’s going to be too early for Josip Juranovic, provided we get the deal for him done today or not.

So, Anthony Ralston, the Belshill Baresi, step right up.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Despite excellent midfield momentum, surely a first start for new Bhoy

It’d be mad to tinker with the midfield three of McGregor, Rogic and Turnbull. Mad, utter lunacy. Who would dare?

I will, though. James McCarthy has made substitute appearances thus far, to decent effect, but this seems like the game for him to start. Doing so probably means a rest for Tom Rogic, but that’s fine – the Australian looked beyond exhausted when he came off against AZ Alkmaar. To keep him firing, he needs his minutes watched carefully.

So, McCarthy will allow McGregor to focus more on the creative side of his game. Turnbull will surely start ahead of those two, in the number 10 role.

We’ve got options, folks. Really solid options. And for a boyhood Celtic supporter, it’s going to be a thrill for McCarthy to make his first start in front of the supporters he grew up alongside.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Does Edouard make it back into our Celtic Predicted XI?

Hear us out, here.

Ryan Christie could start tomorrow. He could. However, I just don’t necessarily think he will.

As a huge Ryan Christie fan, I’d love to see him back at his incisive, clinical best from the start tomorrow. But if I’m Ange Postecoglou, I’m leaving him out of the starting line-up and conserving him for the second leg against Alkmaar.

Therefore, I’m envisioning a return for Odsonne Edouard. Kyogo Furuhashi has to start – obviously he does, come on – and I think James Forrest will complete the attacking triumvirate for this Celtic Predicted XI.

It’s a front three that just screams goals. Forrest is chasing two incredible milestones, and the smart money probably suggests he’ll make some progress tomorrow.

Edouard, meanwhile, has actually been pretty decent thus far. Alongside Furuhashi, the Frenchman and Japanese international’s movement was frightening. Some more of that wouldn’t go down too badly at all, thanks.

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