Celtic v Valencia – Provisional team

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HOW do you think Celtic will line-up on Thursday night against Valencia? Here’s what we think Brendan will do…

Big John Hartson in his newspaper column today is calling on Brendan Rodgers to bring back Craig Gordon for his experience and his shot-stopping ability.

Gordon had one of his best games of the season at Ibrox on 29 December but hasn’t played since. The Celtic manager has opted for the ball playing abilities of Scott Bain and it is hard to see him dropping the former Dundee man on Thursday.

At full backs the two veterans Mikael Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre are set to miss out.

The Swede has lost his starting spot to the impressive Jerry Toljan and he should start at right back – although he could swap over to the left if there is a selection problem there.

Izaguirre is still struggling after that horror tackle against Hibs last week and while Jonny Hayes performed very well against St Johnstone on Sunday he is not a natural left back and Valencia are not St Johnstone!

Kieran Tierney, as we told you last Friday, is pushing hard to play and will be nipping the manager’s ears constantly all week to convince him that he’s ready to start – and knowing KT he’ll succeed.

So we’re going with Bain in goals and Toljan and Tierney as the full-backs.

In the centre of defence Celtic played the second half on Sunday with Dedryck Boyata alongside Kris Ayer – who replaced Jozo Simunovic at half-time after the Croatian complained that he was feeling ill.

That might mean that Jozo starts on the bench and Boyata and Ajer are in the huddle.

So Bain in goals and Toljan and Tierney at full-backs and Boyata and Ajer in the centre of our defence.

Midfield picks itself really – Scott Brown beside Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie running around further forward.

On the wings James Forrest – like McGregor a Euro-specialist and on form Scotty Sinclair.

Oliver Burke will lead the line, unless that ankle knock is worse than first thought. Burke has been excellent in the Hoops and is clearly loving his football here. Signing him on a permanent deal is going to make more and more sense the more we see him play -in fact it is going to be a priority.

From the bench we can expect to see Odsonne Edouard and Timo Weah come on.

So the team that likely to play Valencia is as follows:

Scott Bain

Jerry Toljan, Kris Ajer, Dedryck Boyata, Kieran Tierney

Scott Brown (captain), Callum McGregor

James Forrest, Ryan Christie, Scotty Sinclair

Oli Burke

That’s a very good Celtic side!

Also on The Celtic Star…

McGregor confident that Celtic can get past Valencia

Celtic on This Day – Zurawski gets the winner at Ibrox as Celtic go 21 points clear

Celtic v Valencia – ‘Callum has glorious first touch,’ Boss praises Celtic Star

Celtic Drawn away to Hibs in Scottish Cup Quarter Finals

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