So we have one or two or four or five players out for this one today.
There is no Hatate, Abada, Jota, no Forrest. There is no big Carter Vickers at the centre of defence. Worrying? We’ll see, but this is what Kobayashi was signed for, days like today.
And yet for all that, the only place where you really notice that we’re in the midst of an injury issue is when you look at the subs bench. All those guys would have got in the team.
But all the guys they are replacing in the team are good members of the squad, and would all have gotten on the bench and in fact into every starting eleven in the country.
We look strong. This is as strong as our squad, as whole, has been which is why on a day like this you look at the midfield and forward line, in particular, and don’t really see weakness in spite of the absence of such good footballers. No Abada or Jota or Forrest? Once that would have been a disaster and made you wonder where the goals were coming from.
Not anymore. This squad can now cope with that.
Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t want to see this often but when you do see it’s good to know that the team and the manager can handle it. It’s good to know that this strength in depth we boast about is the real thing … and you can see that it is.
The concern, as ever, is this god-awful plastic playing surface. This is why some of these guys won’t be risked. It’s why big Mooy is on the bench. We’re taking no chances throwing footballers who aren’t 100% out there onto it.
After today there will be another fortnight for our injured stars to get up to speed. No point in trying to rush them back just to throw them into battle on that diabolical playing surface. Besides, Maeda, Haksa and Kyogo are more than capable of getting this job done.
But it’s Iwata I’m actually looking forward to watching today. I really like this guy and think we’ve got the makings of a class footballer there … it would be a good day to stamp his mark on the game.
That will give the boss something to think about if, God forbid, Hatate doesn’t make it to Hampden.
As per usual, enjoy the game guys and see you on the other side.
Celtic: Hart, Johnston, Kobayashi, Starfelt, Taylor, O’Riley, McGregor, Iwata, Maeda, Hakšabanovi?, Kyogo.
Subs: Bain, Welsh, Ralston, Mooy, Turnbull, Hyeongyu Oh, Bernabei, Vata, Summers.