Celtic manager Neil Lennon has hinted he could turn to his experienced pros to see off Hamilton on Saturday.
The Hoops are looking to seriously start building momentum in their title charge. After seeing off Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox two weeks ago, it’s essential that Lennon’s side don’t slip up now. Any small blip at New Douglas Park takes away the importance of the Rangers victory, and Lennon knows that.
The big question mark heading into the game is whether Lennon will make some big changes. With the international break coming to a close, some key Celts have been using up their energy.
However, that doesn’t seem like it will stop Lennon from starting them against Hamilton. Touching on that fixture specifically in the Scottish Sun, he name-dropped several players he’s looking to this weekend.
“Going from Ibrox to Hamilton is where you are looking to Brown, Callum McGregor, James Forrest and the lads who have been here for a while, and know what it’s all about.
“The consistent performers as well, Ryan Christie, and while Mikey Johnston is only young he knows what it’s all about. Going to Hamilton is a totally different environment from the Rangers game. But you still have to win.
“There is a disparity between some games in Scotland. Complacency is your enemy after a big high and a huge concentrated effort like Ibrox.”
A big hint, but nothing certain on starting XI vs Hamilton
So Lennon has pretty much come out and said it. He’s looking for his experienced players such as Brown, McGregor, and Forrest to step up on Saturday. That more than likely means that they’ll start the game.
However, at the same time, he’s also used Mikey Johnston in there despite the fact he’s definitely sidelined (Daily Record). None of these players are guaranteed anything, but it does look as though Lennon has given us a big hint about his midfield.
If he does go with McGregor and Brown, that would see Olivier Ntcham on the bench yet again. This would seem to be the ideal time to see where the Frenchman is at. Last season, it was fixtures such as these where he didn’t look up for it. Whilst that could be in Lennon’s thinking, it would be worth seeing where he’s truly at mentally.
Forrest’s inclusion, meanwhile, wouldn’t be a surprise given he only started one of Scotland’s two games. He should be fresh enough to come right back in. Given the injury to Marian Shved, we’re a little short down the right in any case.
And Lennon has also touched on the fact that this game will be a big challenge for the new players. That should point to Hatem Abd Elhamed, Boli Bolingoli, and Christopher Jullien all starting too. Again, the latter pair weren’t on international duty. Elhamed, however, played 90 minutes in both games for Israel.
Hopefully, there’s enough energy in the tank post-internationals to see off Hamilton with ease. Lennon may have hinted at who could make the starting XI, but you would be a fool to take it for gospel. Lennon has consistently surprised fans with his selections since the summer, and Saturday could easily be no different.