CELTIC’s starting eleven on Saturday’s lunchtime Glasgow derby is certain to be radically different from the side that kicked off in the semi final of the Scottish Cup back in April.
Assuming the Celtic side sent out by Brendan Rodgers is along similar lines to his recent team selections then Celtic should line up with Dorus De Vries in goal and a back four of Mikael Lustig, Erik Sviatchenko, Kolo Toure and Kieran Tierney. The midfield is likely to be Scott Brown, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic with a front three of Scott Sinclair, James Forrest (probably) and Leigh Griffiths.
This side, if selected would mean that there are only 5 players keeping their place in the starting line up from the Scottish Cup match which ended 2-2 after extra time. Celtic then lost a penalty shoot out. These five are Lustig, Tierney, Bitton, Brown and Griffiths.
Craig Gordon looks like losing his status as Celtic’s first choice keeper after Brendan Rodgers opted for his new signing Dorus De Vries in preference to former Sunderland keeper for the recent 4-1 home win over Aberdeen.
The centre back spots back in April were occupied by Charlie Mulgrew and Dedryck Boyata. Mulgrew left the club in the summer and recently signed a three year deal at Blackburn Rovers. Boyata went off injured early in that semi-final and has yet to regain match fitness far less prove to Rodgers that he is good enough to start for Celtic.
In the midfield Stefan Johansen has now left the club having been transferred to Fulham shortly before the transfer window closed for a fee of £2m. It is fair to say Johansen had an extremely disappointing season last year after making an impressive start to his Celtic career during the previous season.
The two wide bhoys at Hampden were Paddy Roberts and Gary Mackay-Steven and both had games to forget that afternoon. Both players have been struggling with injury this season with Roberts being much more likely to be in the manager’s thoughts. Mackay-Steven rejected a loan move from Celtic just as the transfer window was closing, preferring to stay and fight for his place.
The former Dundee Utd winger appears to be relatively far down the pecking order as far as Celtic’s first eleven selection is concerned. He is perhaps more likely to get a run out against Same Old Alloa in the League Cup.
Roberts came back from his hamstring scare as a second half substitute against Aberdeen and as usual he impressed. This is perhaps the biggest decision, along with the choice of goalkeeper, facing Rodgers. Will he go with James Forrest, who got some match time in Scotland’s 5-1 victory in Malta on Sunday, or will he start with fans’ favourite Roberts?
Our guess is if Forrest is fit after the Scotland trip, he’ll start with Roberts coming on later in the game.
So from April’s semi final to Saturday the starting eleven is likely to see the following players drop out: Gordon, Boyata, Mulgrew, Johansen, Mackay Steven and possibly Roberts.
The probable replacements perhaps reveal the increased quality in the Celtic starting eleven. They are: De Vries, Sviatchenko, Toure, Rogic, Sinclair and probably Forrest.