Three key issues Neil Lennon must get right for St Mirren-Celtic clash

By John Reid

December 26, 2019

Celtic return to league action against St Mirren on Boxing Day, looking to maintain their two-point lead over Rangers at the top of the league.

The Hoops won’t have it easy, as in the side’s last two trips to Paisley the Bhoys were held to a 0-0 draw and struggled in a 2-0 win.

There is also the fact that the massive league game against Rangers at Celtic Park is only three days away. Some Celtic fans might be thinking about that game already, but Neil Lennon has to make sure that his players aren’t. Their only thoughts must be on the St Mirren game.

With all that in mind, here are three decisions Neil Lennon must get right for the game against St Mirren, to endure that the Hoops pick up three points:

1. How much game time should Odsonne Edouard get?

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic’s number one striker showed his qualities in the recent 2-1 win over Aberdeen, as he scored the winning goal. However, he was substituted not long after that, and he has yet to complete a 90 minutes for the Hoops since November. That has to be a slight concern for Neil Lennon. However, you would expect the Frenchman to start the game against St Mirren. Hopefully on this occasion Edouard manages to get around 80 minutes of football. That would put him in fine mettle for the game against Rangers on Sunday.

2. Who plays in the ‘number 10’ role?

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In the aforementioned 2-1 win over Aberdeen, Olivier Ntcham started in the attacking midfield ‘number 10’ role. However, when he was substituted in the second-half, Ryan Christie moved into that role, and set up Celtic’s winning goal. That gives Neil Lennon a dilemma for the St Mirren game. Christie is better in the middle of the park, but he seems to like finding a role for Ntcham in the starting line-up. For the St Mirren match, Christie should be back in the middle, but Neil Lennon might not feel that way.

3. Three choices for left-back, who gets the nod?

(Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Celtic are fortunate to have three players that can play at left-back, in Boli Bolingoli, Jonny Hayes and Greg Taylor. Hayes started in last week’s 2-0 win over Hearts, with Bolingoli getting the start in the win over Aberdeen. Now Neil Lennon must decide which of those two – or maybe even Greg Taylor – gets the start for the trip to Paisley. It would not be a surprise to see Bolingoli start, but that might not mean he gets the nod to start against Rangers. It is a case of one game at a time at the moment. Therefore, look for Bolingoli to start in Paisley, but Hayes may return for the Glasgow derby if fit.