The 3 players who need Celtic game time most vs Alloa; just 12 starts between them

By John McGinley

January 20, 2022

I feel like I’m still digesting a euphoric Celtic return on Monday evening, but we’re closer to seeing the Bhoys in action again than debuts under the lights at Paradise.

The fixture away to Alloa may not quite have the big match feel we witnessed against Hibernian but it is no less important to Celtic’s season.

We know all too well the burn of a cup upset and we can’t afford anything to halt our momentum at the moment. Ange Postecoglou’s Bhoys will also certainly have their eye on the Scottish Cup after lifting the Scottish League Cup last month.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The reality is though that Alloa are a struggling Scottish League One side and that we may not need our strongest eleven on the field this Saturday. In fact, some would argue that would be foolish.

I’d expect the starting eleven to be stronger than some might expect. I don’t think it’ll even be as weak or rotated as the one that took to the field against Real Betis in the Europa League. This match still has stakes.

But it is a good opportunity to give minutes to those that need them most. Here are three contenders…

Celtic 2-0 Hibernian | LIVE Reaction

Celtic 2-0 Hibernian | LIVE Reaction
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Giorgos Giakoumakis

With just two starts this season, Giakoumakis undoubtedly needs more time in the Celtic starting eleven. His absences haven’t really been his fault.

He’s had a difficult time with injuries and fitness since joining after not getting anything like a pre-season at VVV-Venlo last summer.

Still, we need to start to see a return on his signing and Alloa is a great opportunity to get him into the team and back on the goal trail.

Coming off the bench on Monday night suggests he’s good to go on that front after impressively putting in extra work over the winter break.

With Kyogo still out injured, we could well need his services over the next few weeks, especially if Daizen Maeda is called up to the Japan national team.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Liam Scales

I’d love to see Scales get another opportunity in the Celtic side this weekend, on the left-hand side of the defence.

No harm to Greg Taylor, whose ball over the top led to our penalty on Monday, but we need competent back-up for him in the event he is injured or suspended.

Getting minutes into Scales’ legs would only serve that well with a busy schedule on the horizon that we’ll need Taylor for.

This is the best moment to give Scales another starting chance, after four selections this season, and keep him involved in Ange Postecoglou’s plans.

The Irishman is far from the finished product but he has already shown desire and determination to get stuck into the Celtic style and perform. He can cope with the challenge of Alloa, no doubt.

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

James McCarthy

With six starts, McCarthy has actually been seen in the Celtic team more than the other players on this list, yet his impact feels just as meagre.

He’s had his own injury struggles since signing up for his boyhood heroes, but 2022 is an opportunity for him to get up to speed and make a renewed push for a place in Ange Postecoglou’s starting eleven.

With Callum McGregor and, arguably, Yosuke Ideguchi ahead of him in the deep-lying midfielder slot, McCarthy has his work cut out to get serious minutes under his belt.

This weekend’s match feels like a good opportunity for him though, especially if Postecoglou is earmarking Ideguchi and McGregor for a starting berth vs Hearts at Tynecastle.

In other news, FIFA announce new loan regulations starting next season; Celtic could benefit.