We’ve all had a long international break to reflect and digest on the defeat to Livingston. It was still a dreadful performance but there’s no point wallowing, it’s time to move on and get the season back on track.
The home game against Ross County is the ideal chance to bounce back with a convincing victory. They usually try to play and be brave, but it leaves them wide open at the back.
It’s also realistic to see this weekend end with all things being back to normal. The Rangers have a tough trip to Edinburgh on Sunday so going into the Lazio game back on top of the league would be perfect.
Of course Ryan Christie will be missing after that challenge, but it’s still time to play on the front foot and get a few goals. Christie’s absence leaves a chance for someone else to prove themselves. Here’s a look at how Neil Lennon could set his team up on Saturday:
The Celtic manager does need to keep the Lazio game in mind with some of the selection. Scott Brown has had a good rest over the international break so will be in good shape for both games in the next week. Maybe it’s Callum McGregor who could do with sitting out the Ross County game ahead of Lazio but with Christie already missing that’s unlikely to happen.
Hatem Abd Elhamed seemed to have some kind of bug during the international break so a lot will depend how he’s feeling but he’s more likely to play against the Italians other than the Highlanders. The full back spots will be crucial against Lazio so the Israeli needs to be kept fresh. Moritz Bauer is likely to start on Saturday at right back and it could be time for Greg Taylor to get a chance and make his debut at home.
Going forward Odsonne Edouard was incredible for France U21’s so there’s no reason to stop his momentum. He’s still young and doesn’t show signs of burning out yet so let him keep his for going.
The big call comes with either Tom Rogic or Olivier Ntcham in that number 10 role, vacated by Christie who is suspended for this match and next weekend’s trip to Pittodrie. Ntcham is probably further up the queue that the Australian talisman who has had to endure a frustrating 2019.
Mikey Johnston is close to a return and could also feature against Ross County.
As Celtic are playing catch-up the three points on Saturday are crucial, absolutely essential.
James Forrest, who will start on the right, was talking about this earlier in the week.
“It’s a bit strange not being at the top of the table because it’s around 10 months since that was last the case.
“But it keeps us on our toes because we know that if we slip up then Rangers are winning regularly so it’s vital that we take the three points off Ross County on Saturday. We have to get winning ways,” the Celtic Star told the media as reported by Evening Times.
“Rangers went into the New Year level on points with us last season but we tend to become stronger after the winter break in January.
“However, we can’t take anything for granted. It’s always tight going into the second half of the season and Rangers are stronger than they were a year ago.
“Hopefully, that is our bad performance and result behind us. Was it a wake-up call? You’d prefer to just keep winning but it’s practically impossible to maintain that high a level right through a campaign. Now we need to show a reaction to that display this weekend,” James said.
The predicted team therefore is as follows:
Bauer, Ajer, Jullien, Taylor
Forrest, Ntcham, Johnston
ALSO ON THE CELTIC STAR…
Gary Hooper joins Wellington Phoenix on a one year deal, the former Celtic striker, who had the chance to go to Iran, opted to sign for the Kiwi side and will wear the Number 88 jersey once again…see HERE.
One Scheidt and Six Magnificently Random Celtic Stories from David Potter. The Celtic historian has been entertaining us with this brilliant feature every day since the weekend and if you’ve missed it so far, it’s well worth grabbing a coffee, sitting down and catching up, some wonderful Celtic stories in there…see HERE.
Celtic’s Bumpy Ride from BR-Exit Disarray to today’s Head of Football Operations Appointment. This brings to an end the BR-Exit debacle at Celtic and allows us to move forward. Hopefully the new man is given the elbow room to do his job without too much interference from above…read the story HERE.
Johnson’s decision ‘took the wind out of Henrik’s Sail’ reveals Southend Chairman, and Larsson is absolutely raging at being badly let down by his former Celtic colleague…see HERE.