Before the excitement of the Europa League tie against Valencia on Thursday, Celtic have a more mundane challenge on their hands.

The Hoops take on St Johnstone at Celtic Park on Sunday in the Scottish Cup. A would secure a passage into the quarter-finals.

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Even though a third consecutive domestic treble is very important, the Valencia game does seem the bigger of the two. That should be reflected in the team selection against the Saints.

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The game seems tailor-made for Hoops midfielder Nir Bitton to make his first start in over a year. Bitton has made four appearances for the Hoops since returning from a long-term knee injury in January, all from the bench.

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The time now seems right for a first start for the player. As he is so versatile, he could replace either Scott Brown or Callum McGregor in midfield. Or he could slot into defence and replace Dedryck Boyata.

Brendan Rodgers will be eager to see if the player still has what it takes to hold down a place in the Hoops squad after a year out. Making fleeting substitute appearances doesn’t tell you enough.

A start against St Johnstone therefore looks the ideal opportunity for the player to prove to both himself and the manager that he has plenty to offer going forward.

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