Cecil B DeMille liked going to work with a Cast of Thousands. Ange Postecoglou must feel the same way as he prepares for the trip across the city tomorrow. He has never had as large a squad to choose from since his arrival at the club in June, and perhaps never in his managerial career.
Kyogo will be on the team bus. It has been over three months since our most valuable asset crossed the white line, he returns just in time to contribute towards the conclusion of his first season in Scotland. Giorgos Giakoumakis will surely take the starting striker role. He is fully fit and in the best form of any striker in the country. At most, Kyogo will be limited to a cameo, but his presence will lift the spirits of team-mates and the 700 Celtic fans in the stadium.
Ibrox is likely to be on a par with any surface we will play on for the remainder of the season. Whenever we have been in trouble away from home, it mostly comes from an inability to get our passing game going on an unsuitable pitch. We must get the ball moving on the ground as crisply as possible.
Goalkeeper and defensive options are straightforward. Who plays either side of Callum McGregor and either side of Giorgos is a more difficult question for Ange. Perm any two from Reo Hatate, Matt O’Riley, David Turnbull and Tom Rogic for the midfield positions, and two from Daizan Maeda, Jota or Liel Abada for the forward positions.
Years of watching games at Ibrox have conditioned me to want players capable of standing up to the physical challenge. If, as I expect, we start Hatate and O’Riley, I would insist on Maeda ahead of them for his tackling and general industry.
Celtic will take to the field with the calm of a team who know they still be top of the table when they leave. Newco know they need to win at all costs, even a draw is not good enough. If the score is level going into the final quarter of the game, our hosts will gamble. We need to be ready with a Jonny Hayes -type counterattack. Think what CB would say at the Red Sea parting scene.