Ahead of a potentially season-defining home clash vs Rangers, it’s starting to look as though the gods have deserted us.
The international break has been littered with injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s home clash.
Firstly it was Nir Bitton. He didn’t even make it to the international break after dropping out of the Israel squad. He failed to feature in the 1-0 win at Dens Park nearly two weeks ago also.
Then, both Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig suffered injury knocks with Belgium and Sweden respectively. Boyata has dropped out of the squad, with Lustig still with the Swedes. Both are therefore doubts.
Kieran Tierney, meanwhile, missed both of Scotland’s matches against Kazakhstan and San Marino respectively.
Outside of the internationals, Celtic prepared a bounce match to get the likes of Tom Rogic and Olivier Ntcham fit. Rogic failed to feature, but Ntcham did and looks ready for the visit of Rangers on Sunday.
So, let’s look hypothetically and have a look at the worst case scenario starting XI. Below is what we feel Neil Lennon would go with if all of the injury doubts miss out.
GK – Scott Bain
RB – Jeremy Toljan
CB – Kristoffer Ajer
CB – Filip Benkovic
LB – Jonny Hayes
CM – Scott Brown
CM – Callum McGregor
RM – James Forrest
CAM – Ewan Henderson
LM – Scott Sinclair
ST – Odsonne Edouard
It’s a team that has plenty of deficiencies, that’s for sure. But, at the end of the day, it’s also a side that should still be beating Rangers. Bearing in mind this is also a squad that’s ruling out all of the doubts for Sunday, it still looks reasonably healthy.
There are question marks to be had over the number 10 position. Perhaps Olivier Ntcham could come straight on and Callum McGregor could push in there. Ewan Henderson has never played against Rangers at senior level, but was an impressive performer at Tynecastle in a similarly feisty encounter.
We also went for Jonny Hayes at left-back. You could argue Lennon would favour Emilio Izaguirre, who he knows well. But the Honduran is only recently back from injury, and had a shocker in his last outing against Valencia.
For a side that could be missing so many star faces including Tierney, Boyata, and Rogic, it should still be enough to dominate Rangers.
Celtic would also still have the likes of Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah in reserve if need be. There could also be injuries and recoveries to come before the Rangers fixture. For now, however, the team doesn’t exactly look like a disaster should all current doubts miss out.