The Celtic trio walking a disciplinary tightrope in Copenhagen
Celtic return to action in the Europa League this Thursday when they travel to Denmark to take on FC Copenhagen.
Neil Lennon’s men have the unusual novelty of having the second leg at Parkhead to fall back on, even if we fall to defeat in the Parken Stadium tomorrow.
The entire Hoops squad will be well aware of that return leg advantage, but three players in particular may have their minds on making sure they’re eligible for the sold-out fixture.
Odsonne Edouard, Christopher Jullien and Ryan Christie – a trio who contributed five goals in our Group E campaign – are all one booking away from missing the Glasgow return.
All three have been booked on two seperate occasions so far in the Europa League proper, with UEFA guidelines (page 45) saying that a third booking will result in a one match suspension.
Given that Christie and Jullien both like to tackle aggressively, you would fear for one of them picking up a booking – especially in a hostile Copenhagen environment.
Could a deliberate booking be a good idea against Copenhagen?
Celtic also have a number of players who are two bookings away from missing a match.
Scott Brown, who already served a suspension on matchday six against Cluj, is the most prominent while Kristoffer Ajer, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Callum McGregor, Leigh Griffiths and Greg Taylor are also in a little bit of danger.
These bookings aren’t wiped until after the quarter-finals meaning that those Celtic players walking a tightrope could have another six matches to play under threat – should we make it to the latter stages of the competition.
That does make you wonder whether they are best taking their bookings against Copenhagen – so to speak.
Of course, we can take nothing for granted against the Danish champions. But if we have a healthy advantage on Thursday night, the likes of Jullien, Edouard and Christie may feel they’re best suited missing the return leg and being back for the last 16 tie.
But, sadly, UEFA rules make it look likely that we will be missing some key players at some stage of our Europa League knockout campaign.
The fact we picked up 14 bookings in 6 group stage games makes it pretty likely that we’ll have a few more.
And, with so many players walking that tightrope, that will only mean one thing.