Andy Walker names Celtic midfield trio for Glasgow Derby against Rangers

Former Celtic forward Andy Walker has said that Brendan Rodgers should start Callum McGregor in the midfield in Sunday’s Glasgow Derby alongside Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley. The Scottish Champions travel to Ibrox with the table finely poised with both sides hoping victory will help push them towards title.

The Celtic skipper has been out of action since the second half of the 7-0 win over Dundee at the end of February with a calf strain; however, he is expected to be back in contention. Speaking to Go Radio Football Show, Walker believes that if the 30-year-old is fit then he has to start given his experience in the fixture.

“If he is fit it is a big boost and bonus for Celtic. He has been there, seen it and done it. He knows how to handle these occasions.

“He has a tremendous relationship with O’Riley. If Hatate is back fit – and I think he is after his hour last weekend – then I am sure he will play. But If Callum McGregor is fit, he has been over this course before, I think Brendan Rodgers would want to start with those three; McGregor, O’Riley and Hatate.”

Celtic’s Northern Ireland coach Brendan Rodgers hugs Celtic’s Japanese midfielder #41 Reo Hatate (L) during a training session at Lennoxtown training ground north of Glasgow, Scotland, on December 12, 2023, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group E football match against Feyenoord. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Hatate started alongside Tomoki Iwata and O’Riley in the 3-0 win at Livingston last weekend and it is expected that the 26-year-old will start, even if Paulo Bernardo impressed when he came off the bench. The Celtic midfield has an abundance of quality and, as is often the case, these games are determined by who can control the middle of the park.

Rodgers will likely update supporters on Friday regarding the status of his captain as he looks to field the strongest possible team against the title challengers. Hatate and Cameron Carter-Vickers have missed the games against Rangers already this season and with both returning, Celtic are in a considerably stronger position.

Walker also said that he thinks that the game will have a huge impact on the destination of the Premiership title with the winners going into pole position.

“When you look at recent results it tends to be the team in form. It is a big hurdle for Rangers and Philippe Clement to get over. Get your first win.

“If they do they will be massive favourites because the confidence that is gained from a win on Sunday is enormous. At this stage of the season when there is not many games left. If Celtic win that will be them on the front foot, I don’t think they would throw it away. If they draw it is still up for grabs. Obviously if Rangers get a win I don’t think they would throw it away.”

Celtic are one point ahead of Rangers, who have a game in hand. The game will likely have an impact on the destination of the title; however, the teams are due to face each other again during the split.

About Author

Born just as Celtic were stopping the Ten, Lubo98 follows Celtic home and away and helps run his local Celtic Supporters Club. He goes to all the games and is a Law Graduate. Has a particular fondness for Tom Rogic among the current Celts and both Lubo and Henrik form his earliest Celtic memories.

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