The visit of Hibernian to Celtic Park was supposed to provide Neil Lennon and the Hoops support with a nice break away from the off-field controversies of last week.
Nope. Instead, a fresh spotlight has been firmly placed on the club. And who put it there? Why Celtic of course, as it was our won stupidity in going to Dubai that has led to such a grim picture being painted.
Celtic today announced that a player has tested positive for Covid-19. It has not been revealed who that player is. It wouldn’t be surprising if both parties chose not to reveal it either given the stick the club received for its Dubai trip. No close contacts have as of yet been named.
There’s not even any real certainty this game is going ahead yet. Who knows what the next 24 hours or so will bring. Nothing would surprise you. But let’s go under the assumption it’s still going ahead. And as he get set to welcome the Edinburgh side to Parkhead, we take a look at Lennon’s potential starting XI.
For me, it picks itself at the moment. And that all starts with Vasilis Barkas in goal. He didn’t have anything to do of note at Ibrox. Criticising him for Rangers’ goal last week would also be over the top. He’ll keep his place as he continues to try and convince everyone he should be the number one.
In our last game against Hibs at Parkhead, Jeremie Frimpong absolutely tore apart Josh Doig. He then did the same to Lewis Stevenson in the second half. He’ll start again at right-back.
Hibernian trip to Celtic Park a must-win for Neil Lennon
On the other flank you’ll find Diego Laxalt. For me, one of the best performers at Ibrox and one who really took the game to Rangers. He’ll be looking for another positive display.
Neil Lennon doesn’t have his problems to seek at centre-back. With Christopher Jullien out and Nir Bitton suspended, we expect Lennon to go with Kris Ajer and Stephen Welsh. Indeed, we’ve been calling for the youngster to get a reprieve. With the selection issues we have at the moment, Ajer and Welsh would be a solid partnership.
From now until the end of the season, Lennon’s midfield is a no-brainer. He has to continue with the diamond that has dominated every game since its introduction. This starts with Ismaila Soro as the deepest point, providing superb protection for the back-line.
On the right side of that, expect Ryan Christie to start with Callum McGregor down the opposite point. That leaves David Turnbull to make his mark behind a strike-duo.
No prizes for guessing who that pair will be. Celtic will be praying Odsonne Edouard gets back to top form over the next few months. Alongside him, Leigh Griffiths had three goals in four games heading into Ibrox. It deserved to be four in five but for a wonder save from Allan McGregor. Lennon will keep both men in his side tomorrow night.
And that’s our XI. Granted, one of these could be wrong if it is indeed a member of the starting XI that has picked up Covid. For now, however, we’ll go with this as our predicted team. For me, it’s the best footballing team in the country at the moment, and here it is in list form:
Predicted XI: Vasilis Barkas, Jeremie Frimpong, Kristoffer Ajer, Stephen Welsh, Diego Laxalt, Ismaila Soro, Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths