Celtic face Hibernian this afternoon as Brendan Rodgers’ team return to domestic action after the enthralling draw against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night. The Scottish Champions were excellent, if not unlucky, as they drew with the La Liga side. However, focus switches to Leith and the game against Nick Montgomery’s Hibs.
The Easter Rd outfit have been impressive since the ex-Central Coast Mariners boss replaced Lee Johnson in the dugout, despite their defeat at Ibrox last weekend. Rodgers will know that a tough game awaits his team after their exploits in Europe so could make a couple of changes.
We are predicting that he will make two changes from the team from Wednesday night with Reo Hatate’s injury forcing the manager to look at his options. Paolo Bernardo came on and impressed and you’d imagine that he may get the nod ahead of Tomoki Iwata and David Turnbull on that basis. Daizen Maeda was immense with his pressing during the week and looked shattered by full time, the manager may look at this being an opportunity for someone to come in and get some game time – such as veteran James Forrest.
In goals, Joe Hart will start.
In defence, expect that the manager sticks with the same back four as the other night with Greg Taylor, Liam Scales, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston.
In midfield, you would expect Matt O’Riley and Callum McGregor to continue with Bernardo coming in.
In attack, Kyogo will start through the middle. We expect that Forrest will be handed a start with Luis Palma, with Maeda handed a rest.
Predicted XI: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; McGregor, O’Riley, Bernardo; Palma, Kyogo, Forrest.
We are yet to see enough from Bernardo to decide whether he is a player that the club should be signing on a permanent basis or not. The Benfica loanee was impressive during the week and the manager may see him as a natural successor to either O’Riley or Hatate, should interest materialise in the future. Getting him game time is important to address this question but it will also be important to see whether Iwata can cope with the footballing demands of Rodgers and get some minutes on the park himself.