Tavernier a doubt for Celtic Park; time to play Elyounoussi in his natural position

By David Walton

March 11, 2021

James Tavernier is officially a doubt to make next weekend’s Glasgow derby at Celtic Park.

The Rangers defender has been out stretching back to last month after picking up a knee injury in a Europa League game against Royal Antwerp. And it looks as though he’s going to miss the third Glasgow derby of the season as he struggles to make it back on time.

Despite concerns over whether the game will go ahead [Scottish Sun], next Sunday is huge for Celtic. Irrespective of our off-field problems this season, there’s still an insatiable hunger to get one over on Steven Gerrard’s side. Especially given some of the nonsense we’ve had to put up with from opposition supporters.

Speaking on Tavernier’s current status, Gerrard said the following as quoted by BT Sport:

“He’s got an outside chance. Obviously depending on what happens from now to that game will depend on whether he’s selected or not.”

Tavernier injury suggests weakness Celtic can exploit; Elyounoussi must start

If Tavernier misses out, Rangers will have to turn to Nathan Patterson. He’s an untested youngster who’s yet to experience a Glasgow derby.

Granted, he’ll have had a couple of European appearances to his belt by the time this one comes around. But even so, he won’t have come up against a player with the quality of a Mo Elyounoussi, for example.

Celtic interim boss John Kennedy has continued in the same manner as Neil Lennon before him. Frustratingly, he’s seeing something that leads him to believe that Elyounoussi can play up top either alongside or in behind Odsonne Edouard. Kennedy utilised it at Dundee United, and Moi was anonymous for the most part.

Celtic attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi at Fir Park / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

He is, at the end of the day, a left-winger. Not a right-winger, and certainly not a striker. With Rangers looking likely to throw an untested youngster in next weekend, Celtic need to put him up against Moi. Even if Elyounoussi has struggled for form this season, you would fancy him massively up against Patterson.

We have to find areas of weakness if we’re to win this derby next weekend. That’s something we’ve failed to do in the two derbies against them this year. Whilst the Ibrox defeat showed promise in terms of the performance, we still struggled to find a way to break them down defensively.

Having a veteran internationalist like Elyounoussi come up against a young-gun in Patterson, that could offer us our best bet. And, really, at this stage, we have nothing to lose anymore.

In other news, a Europa League last-16 manager bigged up by Celtic fans has stated his love for Scottish football.