Predicted Celtic XI vs Ross County (H)

By David Walton

October 18, 2019

Celtic vs Ross County may not be one of Scottish football’s big rivalries, but there is plenty on the line this Saturday.

County make their first visit to Celtic Park since March 2018. On that occasion, the Staggies were put to the sword in a convincing 3-0 success for the Hoops. And they can surely expect a similar ruthless response to their arrival from the champions this weekend.

Can Celtic get back to winning ways on Saturday? (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Celtic are coming into this one on the back of a shocking 2-0 defeat to Livingston. That, coupled with our 1-1 draw at Easter Road, sees us drop to second in the Premiership. A win this weekend is absolutely vital to avoid Rangers getting up a head of steam.

And after a tiring international break, Neil Lennon could make a couple of changes to his side for County’s visit. Here, we take a stab at what XI he’ll choose.

A new dawn beckons for Celtic in Europe, as Joe Hart shows his class once again

The Team

For us, any surprising changes to the first team won’t stretch to the goalkeeper. Fraser Forster surpassed the 200 appearance mark against Livingston. We’re going to bank on him adding to that on Saturday.

Hatem Abd Elhamed recovered from his virus to play 90 minutes against Latvia on Tuesday. With some huge games coming up against Lazio and Aberdeen respectively, we’ll go for Moritz Bauer to come in.

Alongside Elhamed was Nir Bitton for Israel. He played both of their matches over the international break, considering he needs minutes, and we think Lenny will put him in there to rest Kris Ajer ahead of the bigger tests. That means Bitton will be alongside big Christopher Jullien this weekend.

Could Nir Bitton return to the Celtic side after his Israel performances? (TF-Images/Getty Images)

At left-back, a long-awaited debut should be taking place. There’s no need to throw Boli Bolingoli in against County. We all know Boli is Lenny’s number one, but Greg Taylor could seriously do with some minutes. Ahead of a hectic schedule, County at home seems like a priceless opportunity to put him in.

Lenny won’t spit up the Brown-McGregor pairing

Scott Brown and Callum McGregor could operate in the midfield. It’s a bit of a toss-up between CalMac and Olivier Ntcham for us. But Lenny has said in the past that he doesn’t feel the need to give McGregor a rest (Scottish Sun). That seals it for us.

One man who could do with rediscovering his form is James Forrest. The right-winger is off the high of announcing his new book – “Homegrown Hero” – as it gets set to hit the shelves on December 3rd. Hopefully, he responds to the media frenzy over it by putting in a display.

Can Tom Rogic step in for Ryan Christie? (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Tom Rogic was on the scoresheet the last time County visited Parkhead. However, he hasn’t played since the 5-0 routing of Partick Thistle last month. With Ryan Christie suspended, we’re going with Lenny to put his faith in the man he signed back in 2011.

Both Mikey Johnston and Mohamed Elyounoussi never featured for Scotland under-21s or Norway respectively. They were both called up, with Elyounoussi on the bench for both of Norway’s matches against Spain and Romania respectively. Johnston, meanwhile, didn’t even make a matchday squad. For that reason, we’re going to play it safe and go with Elyounoussi down the left.

There’s only one man who can surely play up front on Saturday, isn’t there? Odsonne Edouard rattled home his NINTH goal in four games for France under-21s against Slovakia. His hat-trick followed a brace against Azerbaijan last week. He simply must be given the chance to continue his fine form for Celtic given the confidence that must be flowing through him.

As always, here’s a look at our team in list form:

GK – Fraser Forster

RB – Moritz Bauer

CB – Nir Bitton

CB – Christopher Jullien

LB – Greg Taylor

CM – Scott Brown

CM – Callum McGregor

RM – James Forrest

CAM – Tom Rogic

LM – Mohamed Elyounoussi

ST – Odsonne Edouard