Ange Postecoglou's most difficult Celtic selection call for Glasgow Derby

By Euan Davidson

February 1, 2022

You could argue that for Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, the Hoops starting XI writes itself.

That’s largely due to injuries and international call-ups. However, there’s real momentum with Celtic despite it all. Saturday may not have been the prettiest game to watch, but in terms of a morale boost before a Glasgow Derby, it doesn’t come much better than a last-gasp winner.

All that said, during Saturday’s game we saw a potential issue emerging that’s going to give pause for thought. That’s specifically if you’re Ange Postecoglou. Who starts at left-back tomorrow night?

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Early on, the Celtic boss trusted Greg Taylor in the position. Quite right too, despite the criticism he gets, Taylor played well in Postecoglou’s first few games. Tidy in possession, capable of getting into central areas as requested and providing some attacking thrust, he was more than capable. Then he got injured, and we saw Adam Montgomery, Boli Bolingoli, Josip Juranovic and Liam Scales all take turns in that position.

Talking of Scales; the Irishman has been largely impressive since joining Celtic. There was skepticism about his transfer, but he’s proven himself as a more than steady left-back on occasion. He’s even contributed goals, and his movement off the ball is superb.

However, on Saturday, neither were particularly impressive. Scales and James Forrest just couldn’t click. Taylor came on, and though he was fouled in possession before Bitton had to intervene and get sent off, he didn’t look entirely comfortable.

That leaves Ange Postecoglou with a big decision to make. Does Greg Taylor, something of a veteran of these games by now, get the nod? Or is it time for Liam Scales?

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There’s no obvious wrong answer for Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou as he considers his left-back choices

There is one alternative. Josip Juranovic could be shuttled back to the left, with Anthony Ralston on the right. However, with two fit left-backs available to Ange Postecoglou, the Celtic boss probably wants to avoid leaving any noses out of joint.

No, it seems far more likely that one of Taylor and Scales will be out there tomorrow night. But who?

The form guide would suggest Liam Scales has a good shout here. His assists against Ross County and Alloa Athletic show an end-product that could be pivotal against Rangers. He’s also shown more of a tendency to drift into central positions, and has worked well in tandem with Callum McGregor and Jota.

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However, let’s be honest – the Staggies and the Wasps are a rather different prospect to our opponents tomorrow night.

The Irishman also lacks prior experience of these fixtures. That’s not necessarily exclusive to him, given the turnover at Celtic over the last two transfer windows. But it is something to consider.

Taylor is the one with the experience. But his recent appearances have left something to be desired. Booked and not looking himself against Hearts, his substitute appearance against Dundee United wasn’t the momentum builder he’d have hoped. On his day, though, he can be a crucial player for Celtic, and his reading of the game, illustrated by his 1.2 interceptions per 90, can be important [WhoScored?].

It’s not a clear-cut decision, that’s for sure. While Postecoglou’s hand is forced in other positions, the left-back spot is up for grabs.

Read more: Celtic star signing Josip Juranovic on the “winning mentality” under Postecoglou