Celtic’s Team At The Weekend Could Be Far More Interested Than Last Sunday’s.

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The international break is almost over, and for that I am sure we are all very thankful. The good stuff starts again on Saturday, and it does feel an awful lot like we’ve been missing out on our fix of real football. We’re not in a perfect place, because most of us can see the holes in the team are still there, but we’re certainly in a much better one now.

The team which played last weekend was controversial. At the start of the match anyway. I agreed with it entirely upon seeing it, because I didn’t believe you could throw raw recruits who had barely met their team-mates into the lion’s den. That was the hand the board at Celtic dealt the manager, but he played it to perfection. This weekend will be different.

Raw recruits they may be, but they’ll have met at least some of their team-mates and they will now know what the manager expects of them. Does that mean we’ll see a few in the starting line-up? I think we might. I think we very well might.

So which area of the time are we most likely to get a surprise? That will depend on who is fit and who is back from the international break earliest. I wonder if we might not see Kyogo and Maeda left out and Oh starting up front with Yang and Palma?

I think Palma will almost certainly start. The injury to Liel Abada makes it pretty near certain that we’re going to see Yang in the team as well, unless the manager goes for Forrest. I suspect it’ll be both of them, and the front line will have the same changed look as the backline had last weekend. The thing is … the backline will be changed as well.

Right now, we don’t know who is fit and who isn’t but I very much doubt it will be the same personnel who played at Ibrox. We’ll have to wait until the manager talks to the media on Friday, but there will almost certainly be a radically different look to it.

There might be in the midfield as well. Bernardo is a guy we’ve all heard about and I wonder if we might yet get a chance to see him taking the field for the club. I would like that. I think it’s one of the moves we’d all like … the question is, who comes out?

At the moment, the answer to that would seem obvious, but I don’t think it’s as clear cut as some others suspect. The answer a lot of people are giving is David Turnbull.

But Turnbull has the same number of shaky games as the other midfielders this season, and I thought he was a calm presence at Ibrox. He earned his place. If he keeps it and Bernardo starts on the bench I will not be in the least bit surprised. And it’s about to get better, or worse depending on how keen you are to see the new faces on the pitch, with the imminent return of Hatate.

In this, we’re victims of both the transfer policy – which did not bring us in the obvious upgrade we’d have liked – and of our own success in a way. Because say we had brought the superstar central midfielder in, we’d still have been faced with the same dilemma as to who to drop out and there would have been people arguing for their own favourites to stay.

If Bernardo is up to it, we will know soon enough and then Brendan will have that very pleasant problem to deal with … regardless, he has a slew of good central midfield options to play around with.

This is one of the reasons I find it hard to take seriously any suggestion from across the city that their squad is the equal of ours now. Even if we hadn’t just burst that bubble with a sound you could hear across the Atlantic, it would still be nonsensical.

The team is in good shape going into this one, and the manager has a certain amount of choice and he can be flexible with his selections. I expect him to be. The strength in depth in most areas of the pitch is unbelievable, on a level I’ve not seen it for an age. Even the left-back situation does not look quite as bad as it did, because Scales can cover there.

We’re not ready for the Champions League, although those games are hurtling towards us at speed, but we’re more than set up for storming to this title when we hit our stride again, and that’s what this weekend is all about, that’s what we all want to see.

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  • Bob (original) says:

    Aye, we’re far from ready for the CL:

    maybe this time next year…?

  • Patrick White says:

    Great comment.
    I love it

  • Johnno says:

    I’m expecting a few changes with CL in mind a few days later.
    We still haven’t seen our strongest 11 yet, and will be the same case on Saturday, along with the CL opening game.
    With that in mind, the defensive set up has to hopefully put in place for Saturday that should start in the CL imo.
    Phillips, i think will be a great addition, and potentially allows for a 3 or 4 defensive set up, and could adjust easily enough between the two with dropping Taylor, which could well be on the cards imo.
    Think both hatate and Paulo could offer more to the midfield area than turnbull provides us, and wouldn’t want to depend upon him to much at CL level either.
    Agreed palma could and should maybe start, but yang has certainly made a strong case for himself also.
    Think we will start with our strongest 11 with CL in mind, to give much needed playing time together as preparation for the CL game.
    Get the game won early, then make the changes accordingly.
    We are starting the process where we need squad depth to start producing, as our warm up start to the season has finished now, and the real serious stuff is beginning.
    Of course the injuries are inconvenient at present, but still don’t believe they might be as big as an issue many are fearing either, certainly shouldn’t be a problem on Saturday with another great confidence boost expected, from myself anyway

  • Eldraco says:

    Turnbull imo cannot start any longer.

    He offers very little now and I watched him off ball and saw ditto.

  • Jackson says:

    Have to disagree on Turnbull being a calm
    presence at Ibrox… he was woeful and have to agree with Eldraco he did nothing at all and the fans were screaming for him to be subbed … which thankfully he was

  • Woodyiom says:

    James – the squad certainly has depth (although I don’t think the TEAM is better than last year which is disappointing given the money we earned from the Jota sale alone) but for me playing Turnbull is like playing with 10men. I can’t agree he was a calming presence at Ibrox – I don’t remember him even touching the ball. Holm had more forays at goal in his first 10mins than DT’s entire 66 on the pitch! He’s another Jamesy Forrest – fine when he has time and space and the ball and game are in front of him of him but totally ineffective when he has opponents in his face and clueless with his back to goal. He’s never turned up at Ibrox (like wee Jamesy) and his only goal against the Huns at Celtic Park was a present from McLaughlin which my dead granny would have scored. Bernardo will be a revelation in there and Reo returning is huge. I would love for Turnbull to be a success (given he’s Scottish) but the SPL with Motherwell is probably his true level.

  • Joe McLaughlin says:

    The obvious choice to leave out is McGregor who will have played two more games than most of the others so should be rested.

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