CELTIC have announced the Provisional squad for this evening’s trip to Rugby Park as the Scottish Premiership returns after the winter break.
Here is the squad for the 7.45pm kick-off which for those not heading down to the game, is live on Sky Sports, the players we reckon will start are in bold.
You will notice that there is no place in the squad for winger Marian Shved, despite Neil Lennon saying in Dubai that he’s likely to feature. With Lewis Morgan and Scotty Sinclair leaving the club this month, and James Forrest and Moi Elyounoussi both injured you would have thought that Shved would at least make the provisional squad.
Mikey Johnston returns after missing out at Firhill and Daniel Arzani – who got his first few minutes since the end October 2018 in the closing stages against Partick Thistle – is also in the squad, as is Bayo who returns to full fitness after his latest injury.
Neil Lennon is also without Nir Bitton who will be out for a few weeks after pulling up in the opening few minutes of the Scottish Cup tie. And as expected there is no place in the provisional squad for Jozo Simunovic who simply isn’t risked to play on these plastic pitches.
Kris Ajer, who was also absent at Firhill, also returns to the squad and having spent half a season on loan at Kilmarnock is well used to the Rugby Park surface (back in the day Kilmarnock probably had the finest grass pitch in Scottish football).
Another plastic pitch specialist is Greg Taylor who Celtic signed from Kilmarnock in the summer. Both should start tonight.
The Celtic manager opted for a back four with the full backs pushing forward and Scott Brown dropping back to make it a three as the back of the midfield diamond and of course with two strikers up top. That worked well enough and is likely to be the tactics deployed this evening in what is an absolutely vital match in the pursuit of 9 in a row.
So to the team? Well it’s likely to look something like this…
Frimpong, Ajer, Jullien, Taylor
Neil Lennon spoke about this evening’s challenge at yesterday’s Media Conference.
“We step in to a difficult game tomorrow night but we are confident. We are looking forward to the game and the players are motivated to get the three points,” Lenny stated, as reported by the official Celtic site.
“Kilmarnock are a tough nut to crack. There’s been a change in manager twice, and I think Alex might go back to the way they played previously. They had good win at the weekend. We know the venue’s tough and the artificial surface isn’t always conducive to playing the style of football that we like and we are away from home, so it’ll be difficult, but we are looking forward to it.
“They’re organised. The players know their roles and at Rugby Park, particularly last season, they had a very good record against most teams. I think they’ll play how they did under Steve and make life difficult for us.
“We understand that but we’ve got some very good players and attacking intent and we want to show that tomorrow.
“We need to focus on one game at a time and get our performances to a level I know, and we can then take it from there,” Neil Lennon said.
“We’ve got a good strong core group of players in there who are winners and they won’t want to give anything up lightly as we’ve seen already, so the second half of the season should be exciting.”
Here’s Neil Lennon’s Media Conference…
Meanwhile Jack Hendry has completed his loan move to Melbourne City.
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