So this is it then, the last opportunity for the Celtic players to stake their claim for Ibrox on Saturday.
Celtic host Dundee United in a Premiership match tomorrow that many will look at as an appetiser to Saturday’s main course. However, that would be doing the importance of tomorrow a great disservice.
For many, it’s a case of slip up and the league is over. Allowing Micky Mellon’s side to take anything from Glasgow would be absolutely criminal. And it could prove to be fatal in the title race also.
Lennon could go two ways here. He could rest some of his key stars in order to keep them fresh for the Govan bout. But I think he’s going to go the other way. With no breathing space left in the title race, I think he’ll name the exact XI he plans to start at Ibrox too. So let’s delve in and see what that XI could be:
In goal it’s as simple a decision as Lennon has. Connor Hazard will keep his place after three clean sheets in five games (Transfermarkt). He looked impressive against Accies with regards to how he commanded his box. That’s what we need to see more of.
Lennon may have halted the Kris Ajer right-back experiment at the weekend. However, expect that to resume once again with Diego Laxalt brought in for Greg Taylor down the left.
Celtic centre-back pairing to be changed right up
Chris Jullien and Shane Duffy both missed the Hamilton win through injuries. Albeit the latter did actually make the bench. Expect both to come right back in with their Ibrox spots there to be won.
In the midfield, Lennon simply can’t change anything. I think he may go with the diamond once again with Ismaila Soro operating at the deepest point whilst David Turnbull starts at the highest.
I would love to see Jeremie Frimpong play down the right with Ajer just in behind. In fact, I stressed the need for that a couple of days ago. But I can’t help but feel Lennon is going to throw in Ryan Christie instead as the right side of the diamond. That leaves Callum McGregor on the opposite flank working with Laxalt.
Yes, that means no Mohamed Elyounoussi, Mikey Johnston, or Frimpong in the starting XI. But Jeremie has the best chance to force his way in out of that trio.
Up top then we’re going for Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths against Utd. This is the biggest doubt for Saturday. Will Lennon instead go with one up top? It remains to be seen, but he’s been backing this partnership pretty strongly. Edouard turned it on against Accies whilst Griff made it three goals in three games.
Should this XI play and perform against United, expect similar if not the exact same XI at Ibrox. Here’s a look at our predicted team for tomorrow night in list form:
Predicted XI: Conor Hazard, Kristoffer Ajer, Christopher Jullien, Shane Duffy, Diego Laxalt, Ismaila Soro, Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Leigh Griffiths, Odsonne Edouard.