With Scott Brown suspended for Sunday’s game against Motherwell, I would play Olivier Ntcham in Valencia on Thursday. Olivier was due to return to the substitute’s bench last week, but succumbed to illness shortly before kick-off. He has not played since December, so will be short of match fitness, but an hour in the Mestalla will prep him for Motherwell.
With Filip Benkovic injured, Dedryck Boyata is our best central defender, but neither of them will be at the club when the Champions League qualifiers take place in July. Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic will both be here. For that reason, they should start against Valencia.
You, me, Brendan and Peter all know we need central defensive reinforcements for the qualifiers, but knowing that and meeting the challenge are two different things. Ajer and Simunovic should be given every opportunity to develop their game at this level, as well as their mutual understanding. We have nothing to gain from developing Dedryck’s understanding of European football.