Celtic great Chris Sutton believes Neil Lennon could be set to hand Patryk Klimala his big derby chance against Rangers on Saturday.
The Hoops welcome Steven Gerrard’s side for the first Glasgow derby of the season this weekend. With the game being just two days away, there is already plenty of debate on what decisions Lennon will make with the starting XI.
One of the hot topics for discussion is what the manager will do with the frontline. Will he go with a strike-partnership? Or will he go with a one-striker system? Could Odsonne Edouard find himself in the mix despite only coming out of self-isolation the day beforehand?
For Sutton, who famously scored a brace on his derby debut back in 2000, he thinks Lennon will instead throw a curveball into the mix in Klimala.
Speaking on the Daily Record’s Celtic podcast, Sutton said: “It’s interesting isn’t it. Neil Lennon could have those three players on the bench, but we can’t honestly say they’ll be up to speed fitness-wise. That’s just not going to be the case.
“So I think, at this moment in time, Neil’s hand looks like it’s pretty much forced into playing Klimala. If I’m honest, when I first saw Klimala, I didn’t think that he was anywhere near up to the mark. But he’s growing on me and I think he’s growing on the Celtic fans. They know they’re going to get a good, honest shift in, they know that he can be nuisance value.
“I think his finishing can improve, but I like how he’s improving in a Celtic jersey. So if you’re asking me at this moment in time who is going to start up top, I think it will be Patryk Klimala.”
Just go for it Neil
We’re in danger of thinking that we’re coming up against Bayern Munich on Saturday. We aren’t. It’s Rangers, and if you press this Rangers defence then you’re going to get chances against them. Hibs proved that just weeks ago at Easter Road.
If Lennon goes for Klimala, the one thing you will get is a high level of energy and constant pressing. He won’t give Connor Goldson/Filip Helander a minute on the ball, and that’s something that the Ibrox backline can’t stand.
Celtic need to be in Rangers’ faces from the start and not allow their defence space and time to feel their way into the game. Therefore, Sutton has a great point about playing the young Pole, who would be desperate to make a name for himself in the fixture.
However, his best chance of starting may be in a two-striker system. Should Lennon go with that, you would fancy Klimala to make an impact, and then it’s down to Odsonne Edouard or Albian Ajeti to partner him. It would seem unlikely that Lennon chooses both of them considering they’re only both just back from injury.
But hopefully he goes with two up top. That’s something this Rangers defence has barely been tested with this season. The manager simply has to have a go on Saturday, as it makes no sense to let Rangers get a stamp on the midfield.
In any case, debate will range from now right up until kick-off. All we can do is pray that whatever decision the manager makes – it’s the right one.