Olivier Ntcham’s suspension means Youssouf Mulumbu simply has to start at Rugby Park on Sunday.
Mulumbu was signed on a free contract before the end of the transfer window. Despite that, he’s still yet to make his Celtic debut as he continues to build-up his fitness.
The former West Brom midfielder was a star for Kilmarnock last season, and it will be ironic if he makes his first start against his old club.
Brendan Rodgers, however, should ensure that is indeed the case for several reasons.
First of all, the midfielder is the natural replacement for Ntcham. The stupidity of the Frenchman against St Mirren has cost Celtic a key man, but arguably, Mulumbu would’ve been the better option anyway.
He knows the much-maligned Rugby Park surface, and can play on it without any bother. This was shown in the countless dominant performances he put in for Clarke during his time in Ayrshire.
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Itching to get started
As well as that, Mulumbu is simply itching to get involved at Celtic. He has been talking up the move since deadline day, and his enthusiasm and passion for his new club is infectious.
If he was fit enough to make the bench against St Mirren, it’s clear Mulumbu is ready to be thrown into first-team action.
Rodgers, of course, could make the decision to put Callum McGregor along-side Scott Brown and bring back Scott Sinclair down the left. That’s definitely a plausible option too.
But giving Mulumbu his debut is the perfect story and the best way to go about things.
Killie are going to make it a real battle on Sunday. Their tenacity in the midfield has ensured they’ve taken good results from Celtic in the past under Clarke. Mulumbu was central to that. It would therefore be interesting to see if the powerful destroyer could do the same for Celtic.
This is arguably a decision Rodgers should’ve made regardless of the red card given to Ntcham.
In the last meeting between the sides at Rugby Park, Mulumbu bullied Ntcham around. Celtic’s Frenchman couldn’t get on the ball and perform to his usual high standards. This was because of the quality of Mulumbu and his power in the midfield.
It’s written in the stars that Mulumbu returns to Rugby Park on Sunday and does some damage to Killie. All Rodgers needs to do now is allow it to happen.