NEIL LENNON looks set to confine Brendan Rodgers’ four loan signings to the substitutes bench on Sunday for the Glasgow Derby which could see the Champions extend their lead at the top of the Premiership to an almost uncatchable 13 points.
Rodgers brought in Filip Benkovic last summer on a season long loan from Leicester City and in the January window added three more loanees to his squad, bringing in Oli Burke from West Brom, Timo Weah from West Brom and Jerry Toljan from Borussia Dortmund.
Benkovic has just returned from an ankle injury, and came on a substitute in Celtic’s last game at Dundee, but he is unlikely to force his way into Lenny’s starting eleven ahead of Dedryck Boyata and Kris Ajer.
Boyata missed the game at Dens Park but played in one of the two Belgium matches in Scotland’s Euro 2020 – the win over Russia but then missed the win in Cyprus due to “personal issues”.
He returned to Lennoxtown yesterday and looks set to start against the Rangers, alongside Ajer who also starred for his country, Norway in the Euro qualifying matches.
Mikael Lustig picked up a knock playing for Sweden at the weekend but has indicated that he’ll be ready to play at the weekend. That gives the interim Celtic manager another decision to make and it’s likely that he will opt for Lustig rather than Jerry Toljan.
Kieran Tierney if he’s passed fit will complete the back four with Jonny Hayes standing by to play at left back if needed. KT’s desire to play in this game should see him start.
Timo Weah has not had too much game-time under Lennon and has fallen behind Mikey Johnston as a favoured choice from the bench. He got over 80 minutes in a friendly match for the USA Under 23s but that’s unlikely to be enough to force him into the Celtic team this weekend.
And Oli Burke, who played in Scotland’s dreadful 3-0 defeat in Astana last week, is set to join Weah on the Celtic bench.
After having a severe shortage in fit midfielders to choose from over the first four matches of his time back in charge of Celtic, Neil Lennon now has options all over the place.
Both Tom Rogic and Olivier Ntcham are fit and available to play on Sunday and both have plenty of happy memories of playing against the Rangers!
Lenny is likely to play Callum McGregor, who captained Scotland last week, alongside Scott Brown with Rogic back in the number 10 role.
James Forrest and Scotty Sinclair (playing in his first match as a Thirty year old), will provide the width and Odsonne Edouard will lead the line – he’s another who has sweet memories of putting Sunday’s visitors to the sword.
New Scotland No.1 Scott Bain will continue in goals so the likely Celtic team is going to look like this:
Mikael Lustig, Kris Ajer, Dedryk Boyata, Kieran Tierney
Scott Brown (captain), Callum McGregor
James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Scotty Sinclair
With the likes of the four on loan players plus Jonny Hayes, Olivier Ntcham, Mikey Johnston and Craig Gordon on the bench, Neil Lennon has plenty of alternatives – and loads of pace – should it be necessary.
Remember to bring along your flags and have your say before and after the game at the weekend over on the new fans forum Celtic Noise, where ALL Celtic supporters are welcome…