IT LOOKS as though Brendan Rodgers has a straight choice between two players to see who starts on the right wing against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side at Parkhead on Saturday.

The Celtic manager knows he MUST get it right straight from the kick-off in the derby encounter where a victory will give the champions a virtually unassailable six-point advantage with just two league games to go.

Will Rodgers give the nod to Nicolas Kuhn, the German winger he bought from Rapid Vienna for £3million in January?

Or will he hand the responsibility to the evergreen James Forrest who has made outstanding contributions in recent weeks after coming in from the shadows?

DOUBLE-TAKE…James Forrest fires in Celtic’s second goal in the dramatic Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden and (below) he stages an action replay with the first of his double salvo in the 2-1 Premiership triumph over Dundee at Dens Park. 

To your humble scribe, it is a no-brainer. For me, there is only one man for the job and that’s the bloke who has been there, done it and got the medals – all 22 of them – to prove it.

Forrest is the guy to get the ball rolling on this occasion with the possibility of Kuhn injecting some extra pace later in proceedings.

I reckon we can take South Korean Yang Hyun-jun out of the equation for the time being. He was virtually invisible for just over an hour in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden last month.

Forrest took over and within two minutes had fired the holders into a 2-1 lead with a trademark whiplash low drive into Kelle Roos’ left-hand corner of the net after a typical direct dart towards the danger area.

I understand the thinking behind Rodgers putting on Maik Nawrocki in the fading moments of extra-time to bolster the defence with the Pittodrie club thumping high balls into the box in search of an equaliser.

ON TARGET…Nicolas Kuhn snaps up Celtic’s equaliser with a close-range drive past Aberdeen keeper Kelle Roos in the Scottish Cup semi-final encounter.

However, I found it unfathommable that the Hoops gaffer removed Forrest to make way for the £4.2million summer recruit from Legia Warsaw and left Kuhn, who, despite hitting the first goal, had been negligible in overall play, to remain on the pitch.

In the end, the ploy didn’t work with the Dons heading in a last-gasp extra-time leveller to take the match to penalty-kicks and, thankfully, Joe Hart, after missing from the spot, proved to be adept at keeping one out of his net.

His sprawling save to his left to repel Killian Phillips’ low drive ensured the Hoops would advance into the showpiece ccasion where they will lock horns again with Rangers at the national stadium on the iconic date of May 25.

Before that, though, there is the priority target of the third successive Premiership crown and, naturally, Saturday is utterly crucial in achieving that particular goal – and the Champions League riches that come with it.

There is at least £40million in prize money awaiting the ultimate victors in next season’s new set-up in Europe’s most prestigious competition and 60,000 fans will play their part in Paradise at the weekend in propelling the champions towards that pot of gold.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS…Brendan Rodgers is planning for Saturday’s Premiership crunch.

Forrest will be looking for his TWELFTH championship medal while Kuhn, if you disregard honours at the Ajax and Bayern Munich youth and B systems, has yet to claim a winner’s badge of any kind at senior level.

The stage looks set for a big-game player and Forrest has rarely disappointed as his haul of silverware surely testifies.

The one-club servant is one medal away from equalling the 23 of club legend Billy McNeill and is currently just three short of the all-time best of 26 held by Lisbon Lion Bobby Lennox.

Forrest is under contract until June 2025 and could yet gatecrach the history books.

So, will it be Old Reliable or the New Bhoy against the Govan club in three days’ time?

That’s the £40million question for Brendan Rodgers to answer.



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