Celtic Should Be Very Careful With Its Returning Players. They Aren’t Fully Fit Yet.

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As we wait for the definitive news about who is fit and who isn’t for the weekend we should bear in mind that fitness comes in different forms. You can be game fit but not match fit.

I suspect that our players – Abada and Hatate foremost amongst them – aren’t anywhere near match fit. I could be wrong. Perhaps Ange has worked these guys in training and they are much more ready for 90 minutes at Hampden than we think … but probably not.

We may, therefore, be somewhat surprised by the line-up. This is where Ange’s talent for game management might well be important to the outcome.

Do you play Hatate and Abada from the start, and go for Shock And Awe?

That’s a strategy that might well pay off, because I think the Ibrox defence is weak and if we go for it early we can wrap the game up in no time at all. If it turns into a grind, though, what then?

How long do you keep on the pitch two players who might be toiling?

Equally, we must consider what bringing them into the game late might mean. If the game goes to extra time, do they have the legs for it? Will they be able to compete? Ange knows his stuff, and he knows how big this decision might prove to be.

Certainly there is a good argument for introducing the players as impact subs if you think it will win you the game. This is where the strength in our squad comes to the fore, and I would be perfectly confident whether these guys start or come on later.

But we should not be shocked if he leaves them out, at least at first.

Because we’ve seen what happens when players who aren’t match-fit are thrown into games. We’ve seen it most often across the city, where they are certain to start players who aren’t completely ready … and that will be just one of the things that costs them on the day.

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  • S Thomas says:

    In Ange we trust. I would actually like to see more of Haksabanovic.. I’ve been impressed with him. I’m hoping Hatate especially makes it, because if he does then Celtic will win comfortably. We missed Reos creativity the last game against them, and if he is fit then Celtic will be in the final .

  • JimBhoy says:

    I’d leave these decision to the man we trust in charge. I would have agreed more with you early in a season when players are finding their match sharpness.

    Iwata Hatate and Calmac to run the show in midfield.

  • Johnno says:

    Biggest part of the job Ange gets paid for is making these big decisions.
    Hopefully they are not as big as you could be making out James.
    The one I am hoping for most is for Jota to be able to start with abada also available, would give us a far better balance to the team, which hasn’t looked so great with using hako on the right hand side imo.
    Hako has looked far better as a big impact sub on the left in his preferred position on the left and even better when the game opens up moreso in the latter stages.
    Still believe our midfield operates far better with hatate in it, with the quality he has, again would be a huge boost if available and starts if available from the off as well worth taking that risk.
    The biggest decision I believe Ange is facing is weather to start Mooy or O’Riley?
    Mooy still hasn’t looked quite right since his return from injury and with O’Riley returning to form and offers better defencive qualities from the set plays threats then hopefully O’Riley gets the starting role imo.
    We are going to be far stronger for this semi than last season on regardless of any potential injury concerns as last season we still had to depend upon to many players running on an empty tank still, that won’t be the case this weekend

  • Martin says:

    In my view we play Jota (if fit enough) on right wing and otherwise keep team from past couple of games. I think our creativity on RW was lacking (not Haksa’s fault, it’s just not his position) and if we fix that we’re well on the way to solving the issues of flatness. I think Abada and Reo have been out too long to throw in.

    Although I appreciate your point that if we do and go 3-0 up by half time we can take them off and manage the game. My worry is that they’ll go very physical with nothing to lose and everything to gain, so we’re risking players in a game that already risks injury.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Imo a lot could depend on whether Hetate’s in or not. If he’s fit, play him from the start, we’ve been missin his craft and workrate in the mid and we’ll definitely need that on Sunday. Big Aaron on his day, is capable of makin an impact in either half of the game. As ah’ve previously commented, can see this bein by far, the toughest (most physical) game we’ve had this season domestically and we’re gonnae need our mid tae be strong. Jota and Abada, any one of them startin would do me, tho Abada seeems tae put the fear in them, so personally would play him from the start and keep Jota for later in the game. Anyway, we trust the manager. Get us back tae Hampden in June. HH

  • Johnny Green says:

    If he is fully fit, then Hatate should be straight into the team. I’m still thinking of his two goals against them on his derby debut and want more of the same. Jota should also be up front as he is always a potential match winner.

  • Dolphin Boy says:

    James why would you question Ange on the possibility of him playing individuals when there could some doubt as to their fitness

  • SSMPM says:

    With 3 training days to go it’s a bit early still to make definitive calls on players match fitness or whether to start or come on for continuity impact. It’s in our hands when we play certain individuals during the game and the full use of the squad may have to be utilised to get the best we can from 45/60 minute fitness players.
    The rankers haven’t got that depth of quality available to them and with a dodgy defence, and a lightweight midfield, even with a fully fit Goldson back, they won’t I think have the staying power or stamina to last the relentless 95 + minutes required. That will in my eyes be the difference. It’s getting to that exciting 3 day pre match stage and never say never but as each day goes by and players return I’m feeling more and more confident. HH

  • William McAllistet says:

    I think most people can predict Crltic’s lineup. So why not confuse the opposition.Move Taylor forward to replace Maeda Bring in Kobyashoi at left back and Hatate or Iwata in midfield. Team would be Hart,Johnston,Carter-Vickers,Starfelt,Kobyashi,O’Riley,Hatate or Iwata,McGregor,Jota,Kyogo and Taylor. Kobayashi has the pace to match any speed merchant in Rangers team adds height to the defence and is a great attacker Taylor has a better final ball than Maeda and Wii shackle Tavenier. Bill Mc Allister

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