Celtic v Hearts: Predicted XI with Daizen Maeda to return

Celtic return to Paradise this afternoon as they look to take a massive stride towards winning the title. Steven Naismith’s Hearts are in Glasgow’s East End in the second post split fixture, which could see Brendan Rodgers’ side go six points clear with a win.

The visitors, however, have won their last two games against Celtic and will be confident that they have a game plan that can frustrate and hurt the Scottish Champions.

Joe Hart will continue in goals as the Englishman nears the end of his professional career. Celtic’s No1 will be willing the team on to a strong finish in the remaining five games this season, which would be a fitting send-off.

In defence, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales will start in the central pairing. The Irishman was rewarded with a four year contract yesterday, testament to his breakthrough at the club. He will be keen to ensure he’s worth the commitment. Alistair Johnston and Greg Taylor will start in the full back berths.

Callum McGregor has improved in training according to Brendan but you’d imagine he’d only get 60 minutes or so again today – especially with Rangers on the horizon. The skipper will be joined by Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley in the middle.

The Celtic manager has confirmed that Daizen Maeda is back in contention after an incredible return from injury. The Japanese forward must start next weekend and, accordingly, he might need to start on the bench today and make an impact from the bench. Expect James Forrest and Nicolas Kühn to continue in the wide areas.

In attack, Kyogo will likely start. The Japanese striker has been somewhat subdued in the last two games but his quality often shines through. Adam Idah will be waiting from the bench should the talisman fail to make an impact.

There is no escaping that Hearts will be up for it. They have enjoyed an impressive season in Naismith’s first as a manager – even if they have relied heavily upon Scotland internationalist Lawrence Shankland. Their win at Celtic Park in December showed that they didn’t have to be good to beat Celtic, they just had to continue frustrating us. If only they had the same enthusiasm when playing other teams from Glasgow…

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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