Hibernian were on a run of three consecutive wins when they lost 4-1 to Celtic in Glasgow on 6 December. Their seven league games since have produced a win at Livingston, two draws and four defeats. Their last two home games were brutal 0-3 hammerings by St Mirren and Newco.
With Livingston and Ross County both circling the drain Hibs form might not be a relegation worry, but they are only two points ahead of a rejuvenated St Johnstone, who sit 10th.
That game at Celtic Park in December was refreshing inasmuch as the visitors at least tried to play football in the Celtic half. Whether they will be so bold tonight while in such a poor run of form is doubtful. Manager Nick Montgomery arrived in September with a strong reputation earned in Australia. He can afford to lose to Celtic, but there is a limit on how many absolute batterings you can take in front of your own fans before the natives grow restless.
The Celtic line-up is often predictable, but I have no idea how Brendan Rodgers will go tonight. I have been an advocate of Maik Nawrocki’s but he put in a poor second half against Aberdeen on Saturday before being replaced by Stephen Welsh. Either one could start alongside Liam Scales.
Alexandro Bernabei also made way for Tony Ralston at left back. My gut tells me Tony will get the nod from the start tonight.
We now have genuine options on the wing. Nicolas Kuhn began and ended the move that led to Celtic’s goal on Saturday and will surely get his chance from the start, with Liel Abada dropping to the bench. The welcome return of Daizen Maeda gives the manager a further option, for either wing. I expect we will see Luis Palma start on the left, Nicolas on the right, with Daizen and Liel making an appearance at some point.
Kyogo was a spectator until Adam Idah came on at Aberdeen. Thereafter our Japanese talisman was able to contribute significantly more. There is no way Brendan will start with Adam on the field but neither of us will be surprised if that changes after the hour mark.