For the first time in a long time, a Celtic manager is approaching a game with the best possible hand. What a change that is from all those times we’ve had serious injury problems going into a match. This time last year we had all manner of issues to deal with; this year it is plain sailing. We’re in a very good place in terms of this squad.
The one remaining issue with fitness was Reo Hatate; the boss has confirmed that he will be in the squad for Sunday. Which means we are full strength. He has the full deck to choose from, with Starfelt of course marking his own return from injury with a goal last weekend.
Ange now has that very pleasant dilemma in front of him; who do you pick from a squad this strong? With Hearts coming off the back of European exploits – and it’s been a while since they did that and then came up against us, usually it’s the other way around – the manager could probably go without his strongest eleven … I still think that’d be a formidable team.
But it’s a home game, in front of a full house, and we don’t know how Saturday’s result are going to go, and so he’ll want to play our best players and put on a show. The question he has to ask himself – and which we’ll all be keen to see the answer to – is what he thinks the best team looks like now that he has all the bits and pieces at his disposal.
For example, does he continue with the impressive Jens and Carter Vickers at the back, or is this the time to redeploy Starfelt in the team? Does the give a game to Bernabei, show that all’s forgiven inside the club, or stick with the excellent Greg Taylor?
Most importantly, who does he play in the middle of the park now that we’ve got our full complement of midfielders? Does Hatate start or is it better making sure that we’re taking no chances, and leaving him on the bench?
And the bench itself … as strong as a Celtic bench has been in a long time, with plenty of scope for changing things if the game isn’t going our way … something I can’t see being much of a problem, if I’m being totally honest.
With new additions still being discussed, the boss has things looking pretty sweet right now. We should all be looking forward to what’s coming not just this weekend but over the next few weeks. The Champions League draw is almost upon us, we’ve got a trophy defence to start … and then the jokers across town pay us a visit which they’re not going to enjoy.