CHRIS SUTTON has admitted he would play Giorgos Giakoumakis ahead of Kyogo Furuhashi in the High Noon kick-off at Parkhead tomorrow.

Ange Postecoglou has the happy problem with his two main strikers fit and rarin’ to go for the visit of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox side where a win will propel Celtic nine points ahead with only three games to play.

It would take an implosion of seismic proportions for the Hoops to fail to win their tenth title in 11 years with home matches against Hearts and Motherwell and a trip to Tannadice to face a Dundee United team they have beaten 3-0 on two occasions at the venue this season.

GREEN LIGHT…Kyogo Furuhashi is keen to start for the second time this year in Parkhead crunch tomorrow. 

Kyogo got the nod ahead of Giakoumakis last week to make his first start of 2022 against Ross County and he repaid the manager’s faith by promptly heading in the opener – his 17th of the campaign – as the team dodged a banana skin in the Highlands.

The Greek, with 13 strikes, came on for the Japanese ace in the 64th minute and was involved in the killer second goal when his effort clattered off the bar for Filipe Jota to pounce in the fading moments to make certain of the victory that restore their sic-point advantage.

Now all eyes are on the east end of Glasgow for their fourth league meeting of the season between the city rivals with Postecoglou’s men winning the previous two.

Former Hoops goal hero Sutton asked: “Kyogo Furuhashi or Giorgos Giakoumakis? Or both?

SALUTE TO THE FANS…Kyogo Furuhashi, with Giorgos Giakoumakis in the background, hails the travelling support after the 2-0 win in Dingwall last weekend.

“It’s a huge decision for Ange Postecoglou. If it was my decision, I’d go with Giakoumakis.

“I almost can’t believe I am saying that because Kyogo has been an absolute star since joining the club.

“The Japanese striker was in electric form in the first half of the season and marked his return to the starting line-up for the first time since Boxing Day with a smart goal against Ross County which took his team a big step towards the title.

“However, as I think back to the previous meetings of the sides since the turn of the year and the way they have gone for Celtic, it edges me towards a preference for Giakoumakis in the central attacking role.

“The Greek proved a real handful for the Rangers defence when he started the Premiership games at both Parkhead and Ibrox – and Celtic won both of them.

“Giakoumakis didn’t score in either, although he would have done in the home game but for some superb goalkeeping from Allan McGregor.

JOY BHOYS…Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda celebrate after another Hoops triumph.

“But his value to the team was clear. He was a presence, someone to hit and he occupied defenders.

“As he kept the likes of Connor Goldson concentrated in the middle and dropped off, Celtic’s wide men Daizen Maeda and Jota were able to get in behind at Ibrox. At Parkhead, he was a focal point for the rest to play off.”

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Celtic didn’t create much from open play at Hampden and that was in direct contrast to making an absolute heap of them in the two previous meetings.

“Maybe it was a coincidence, but I don’t believe so. I believe Giakoumakis had a big part to play in that process.

“Is he a better player than Kyogo? No, I wouldn’t say that he is. He’s certainly not as technically gifted.

“But sometimes it is about finding the pieces to fit a jigsaw.

“Of course, the option is there for Postecoglou to play Giakoumakis and have Kyogo on one of the sides, yet I can’t see that happening.

CAPTAIN’S ROLE…Callum McGregor is ready to lead Celtic to title glory.

“Postecoglou admits he got it wrong playing Kyogo wide in the first meeting of the season at Ibrox, he likes Maeda while Jota was back towards his best against County last weekend after a quiet spell.

“Rangers had to put in some hard yards in Leipzig on Thursday, so having Giakoumakis and Maeda working the Rangers backline for an hour with an eager Kyogo to come on to run at tiring legs in the final stages of the game is an option.”

The one-time England international frontman added: “Hand on heart, I actually think Postecoglou will start with Kyogo.

“Given the impact he’s had at Celtic and with more minutes in his legs since Hampden, the Japanese could turn it on and torture Rangers.

“Let’s get this clear, I’m a massive fan of Kyogo and, against most opposition, I’d probably pick him ahead of the Greek.

“But I’m just taking the evidence of the last three Old Firm matches into my thinking.

“It’s a huge opportunity for Celtic. A clean sheet will ensure a draw and leave them needing just one win from the last three games to clinch the title.

GOVAN GLEE…Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrates his winning goal at Ibrox earlier this month.

“Cameron Carter-Vickers will be key in that situation and quite how he did not make the shortlist for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year Award is beyond me. He has been immense for Postecoglou.

“Celtic’s full-backs will have a big responsibility against Rangers’ wide men and it will be up to Callum McGregor to get a grip of the midfield.

“Home advantage probably just gives my old club a slight edge, but these teams are even and it will come down to performance on the day.

“Rangers have to win if they want to stay in the title race and, despite being without Alfredo Morelos and probably Kemar Roofe, they still have players who can hurt the Hoops.

“But Celtic also have the attacking weapons to cause mayhem at the other end and I’ll be intrigued to see just who Postecoglou picks.”

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