Neil Lennon has some interesting selection dilemmas on his hands ahead of Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen on Sunday.
Some of these selection issues have been enforced by injury, whilst other can be seen as a positive, as Celtic get players back from injury and Covid-19. The Scottish Cup might have been on the back burner for a while, but from now on it will be at the forefront of all at Celtic Park’s minds as the Hoops go for a fourth successive domestic treble.
Here we examine the three big selection issues that the Celtic boss faces:
Vasilis Barkas or Scott Bain?
Barkas had been Celtic’s number one goalkeeper since joining from AEK in the summer up until very recently. An injury meant that he lost his place to Bain, who has been in goals for the last two fixtures.
Bain hasn’t kept a clean sheet in either of those games, but as reported by 67HH he was praised by Hoops boss Neil Lennon in the aftermath of the draw against Lille, which saw him save a penalty.
That could be a case of Lennon just giving a player encouragement, but it could also be a case where the Hoops boss is giving a clue about who is Celtic current number one goalkeeper. With that in mind, we are going for Bain to get the nod to start.
Verdict: Scott Bain
Olivier Ntcham or Tom Rogic?
The Frenchman played in a more forward thinking role against Lille, and was excellent until he faded in the second-half as Celtic were constantly on the back foot. He might frustrate at times, but you can see why Neil Lennon is a fan of the player.
Rogic was one of Celtic’s late subs against Lille, but he didn’t have much of an impact on the game. However, that might not be the case at Hampden. He has a great record against Aberdeen, and in the recent 3-3 draw between the teams he was directly involved in two of Celtic’s goals.
The Aberdeen defence didn’t have a clue how to handle Rogic. Therefore, when it comes to starting in an advanced midfield role in the semi-final, we predict that Rogic will get the nod to start.
Verdict: Tom Rogic
Albian Ajeti or Odsonne Edouard?
Perhaps the biggest dilemma that Neil Lennon faces. Edouard made his long awaited comeback from Covid-19 against Lille, replacing Ajeti in the second-half.
Ajeti had played well up to that point. He missed a good chance to give the Hoops the lead, but his head didn’t drop as a result, and he played a role in both of Mo Elyounoussi’s goals for Celtic.
However, when it boils down to it, Edouard is just the better player. That is no slight on Ajeti, who has done well for the most part since joining Celtic. If Celtic want to have the best chance of making the final though, Edouard has to start, and that is what we predict will happen.