We all know that the first team can win this game tonight with room to spare; that’s just a simple fact and no-one sane would dispute it. But the first team has more pressing business to come, first at the weekend and then against Manchester City next week.
So, I wondered if it might be worth risking them tonight for what is, after all, the second tier cup competition and solidly fourth on our list of things we’d like to win this season?
Let’s not kid ourselves, we all know what the most compelling reason is for giving a damn about the League Cup at all; it’s necessary to securing a treble. Without that there would be little interest in the tournament, especially now as there’s no European place at stake for winning it.
It’s the throwaway trophy, the one care least about.
Yet the treble is tantalising, and particularly this year when the League Cup Final will be in November, giving us a chance to see Brendan Rodgers holding up a trophy before the turn of the year. Sevco’s place in the semi (what are they odds they get Morton?) means we’ve got another chance to stiff them before we go to Ibrox.
That’s for mulling over later.
We have to get to the next round ourselves first, and that’s where the question came in; should we play the first team tonight, to make sure we go through, or some of the kids? Should we give Ajar, Christie, Henderson and maybe even Aitchison a chance? Or do we take no risks, and play the first team, Sinclair and all?
Because that too has risks, of course.
The risk of injuries and suspensions.
It would be dreadful to see Dembele or Sinclair get injured in a match like this, ruling them out of bigger games, in more meaningful competitions. Other players have been patient – few more so than Ryan Christie, who we all have such high hopes for.
Tonight might have been a good time to give them a run out.
We’ve chosen, instead, to go with a very strong side. I can’t hold that against the manager.
Armstrong starts in the middle of the pitch, and the back line is sufficiently strong, which means playing Simunovic is in alongside Toure.
In goal, we returned the jersey to Craig Gordon. Doris De Vries needs a spell out of the team, but not for an SPL match or European tie, otherwise we risk shooting his confidence completely. Gordon already knows he’s not number one choice, and the idea of having to rely on him over the course should scare all of us because of that. I think this will prove to be a one off; De Vries is it, for the time being, until we can sign a quality keeper in January or the summer.
Dembele starts up front, but I would hope he comes off after the tie is secure. Sinclair doesn’t play; Forrest and Roberts are out wide.
Tougher challenges than this await us.
A comfortable victory tonight, please, Celtic.
In Brendan We Trust.