Celtic boss Neil Lennon has confirmed that the club won’t be looking to follow in Liverpool’s footsteps and make mass changes for their Scottish Cup clash at Clyde today.
Jurgen Klopp’s side entered the FA Cup at the third round, and started five youth players against local rivals Everton at Anfield. Granted, the likes of Adrian, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, and Takumi Minamino all started too.
The real controversy came in a round four replay against Shrewsbury. Klopp decided to take his entire first-team squad on a break to relax and recuperate, which brought plenty of criticism from external parties (The Sun). Unlike the Everton game, Liverpool played a full team of kids – including Liam Millar, who spent the first half of the season with Kilmarnock.
But Lennon won’t be doing something similar. He’s told the Scottish Sun that whilst there will be some changes, he won’t be playing anything like a shadow side.
“I can understand Liverpool doing what they did with the amount of games they have. I didn’t actually realise we’d played more games than them this season.
“But while the Cup’s behind the league in our priorities, I have some players who need games. We’ll make changes, but not too many.
“We want to be strong and make sure we negotiate the tie, but a few may need a rest and that’s something we’ll think about.”
Which youngsters could get an opportunity today?
Lennon’s desire to field a strong team is a welcome sign. We don’t want our near four-year unbeaten domestic cup run to end just because we decided to go with a youth team. Whoever ends this run is going to have to earn it, because it’ll certainly be something worth bragging about.
Yet that doesn’t mean that there is no room to field some youngsters today. We’ve had some impressive youngsters come into the fold under Neil Lennon, and a couple of those could be involved.
One who won’t be is young Stephen Welsh. He’s unfortunately cup-tied for the rest of the season after playing in three different Scottish Cup matches with Greenock Morton before the winter break.
However, Scott Robertson managed a fine debut in Cluj back in December. He was a standout in Romania despite playing in a side that didn’t perform well on the night. He deserves another opportunity to impress Lennon, and it wouldn’t be the worst idea to get him in and around the squad today at least.
Ewan Henderson, like Welsh, came back in January but under different circumstances. He simply wasn’t playing at Ross County, despite the fact we know he’s a fine midfield talent. Lenny could do worse than throw Hendo into the mix, particularly considering he already has seven Celtic appearances to his name (Transfermarkt).
Karamoko Dembele, Armstrong Oko-Flex, and Kieran McGrath have all been impressing in the reserves recently. But game-time for them looks doubtful this afternoon.