The upcoming Celtic match against Cluj is a massive one.
After a positive draw away to Rennes on matchday one of the UEFA Europa League group stage, a win is needed to continue our push towards the knockout stages.
That result in France will mean little if there’s a poor result and performance against the familiar foes at Paradise this week.
Neil Lennon needs to get his team selection and tactics spot on.
One burning issue in the team right now, as I see it, is his continued insistence at playing some of our most important players outside of their best positions.
Take James Forrest for example. He’s been massive threat on the right flank for a number of years now, scoring 17 goals in each of the last two seasons, as well as creating plenty of assists.
Again this term he’s been in red hot form.
What’s the problem?
In recent matches though, Lennon has insisted in giving him game time on the left flank, with Ryan Christie moved wide right to accommodate Olivier Ntcham through the middle.
Ntcham is obviously an excellent player on his day and can be a real thorn in the opposition’s side, but should he be selected at the expense of changing the role of Christie and Forrest?
If Lennon wants to play the Frenchman it should be at the expense of Callum McGregor or Scott Brown.
Christie is just too effective playing in that number 10 role to be utilised elsewhere. When you consider it impacts on Forrest’s game too, it’s clear that we can’t go into the Cluj match with the same midfield and attacking blend.
What should Lennon go with?
Having Ntcham on the bench as an option in the second half is an ideal way to utilise him right now. The manager would probably be unwilling to sacrifice the selection of his captain or vital midfield cog McGregor.
A midfield five of Brown, McGregor, Christie, Forrest and Elyounoussi seems perfectly appropriate for the visit of the Romanian champions.
It gives Celtic both the defence balance and attacking prowess needed to overcome the difficult encounter and exact revenge on the team that dumped us out of UEFA Champions League qualifying.
If the manager continues with the recent selections seen against Kilmarnock and Hibs, we’re risking another poor result.