Predicted Celtic XI vs Hamilton; Three changes including exciting academy youngster

By David Walton

January 26, 2021

Whatever Celtic XI Neil Lennon goes for vs Hamilton, it’s likely not many fans will be too enthralled.

The days of getting excited with seeing Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull finally get the game-time they deserve is now gone. It’s been replaced with sheer disappointment that the title is now beyond our reach. Not mathematically, but realistically and logically.

But for those hoping to see the youngsters thrown in – don’t hold your breath. Lennon will believe every game is important as he looks to win back a level of trust from the supporters that now looks impossible to retrieve.

It doesn’t matter whether you think the players perceived to be Celtic’s strongest merit that categorisation. It’s still exactly the same players Lennon will go for. Well, more or less.

Celtic XI vs Hamilton to include three changes

We’re going to predict that Lennon makes three changes from the side that drew with Livingston on Wednesday night. That won’t stretch to the goalkeeper though, with Vasilis Barkas again selected.

It will be another four at the back, and two of our dropouts come here. Expect both Nir Bitton and Shane Duffy to make way. The reason? Jeremie Frimpong will return at right-back whilst exciting Lennoxtown youngster Stephen Welsh will get his deserved shot alongside Kris Ajer. 

We stated our belief after the Livingston game that Greg Taylor had actually performed well prior to Jay Emmanuel Thomas’ equaliser. I still believe that to be the case, and therefore I think he’ll keep his place again.

I’m not even sure if Lennon played the diamond against Livingston. The game was such a total mess that it was unclear what we were trying to do in the midfield.

However, that shouldn’t be the case at Celtic Park this week. Ismaila Soro will start as the deepest point of the diamond with David Turnbull the most advanced.

Christie and McGregor need to stop underperforming

That gives Ryan Christie his spot back on the right side again with Callum McGregor forming the left point of the diamond. Both of these men need to start picking up their performance levels.

Moi Elyounoussi wasn’t the worst at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Wednesday night. Regardless, he’ll drop out for the relatively straightforward decision to give Odsonne Edouard his spot back alongside Leigh Griffiths.

Happier times as Odsonne Edouard scores for Celtic against Hamilton on flag day / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Personally, I would like to see a bit more of Albian Ajeti or Patryk Klimala. Especially given the Frenchman has been poor all season and looks certain to go in the summer.

But given Lennon will feel he needs to win as many games as he can, don’t expect many changes. He’ll still go with what he thinks are mainly his strongest players.

Predicted XI: Barkas, Frimpong, Welsh, Ajer, Taylor, Soro, Christie, McGregor, Turnbull, Edouard, Griffiths

In other news, we discuss why Celtic fans should be excited about what the summer potentially holds.