Scottish Premiership holders Celtic start their Premiership campaign on Sunday with a tricky away fixture against Heart of Midlothian FC. Brendan Rodgers has managed to progress to the Champions League Playoff Round at the expense of Lincoln Red Imps and Astana and he will be eager to start the domestic season in the best possible manner. Tynecastle is all set to witness an electric season opener as Hearts will be desperate to upset the Bhoys.
Hearts, who finished third last season in the Scottish Premiership and qualified for the Europa League qualifiers suffered a shock result against Maltese minnows Birkirkara. They were knocked out after losing the second qualifier 2-1 at home. Robbie Neilson’s boys will be keen to bounce back from the disappointment with a strong showing against mighty Celtic.
Here is the predicted Celtic lineup against Hearts
Craig Gordon will keep his place between the sticks without any shadow of doubt. The 33-year-old has to come up with an assured display to help Celtic cement a win. Erik Sviatchenko is likely to be back to the starting XI following the slight layoff he suffered. The Danish international’s return to fitness will be a massive boost for Celtic.
Summer signing Kolo Toure looks all set for his first start in a Celtic jersey. Even though the Ivorian is 35 now, he can still play a key role for the Hoops this campaign courtesy his immense experience. With Toure and Sviatchenko at the heart of the defence, Mikael Lustig is likely to switch back to his favoured right-back position after doing a good job as an emergency centre-back. Kieran Tierney is an undisputed choice in the left-back position.
Nir Bitton is yet to make his comeback from an ankle injury which means Callum McGregor is likely to continue in the middle of the park alongside skipper Scott Brown. Brendan Rodgers must do without the services of Patrick Roberts for his first taste of domestic action in the Scottish Premiership as the 19-year-old will miss three weeks following the hamstring injury he suffered against Astana in the midweek.
Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest are likely to retain their places on the flanks while Tom Rogic should start as the number ten. It’s too soon for new signing Scott Sinclair to start in a Celtic jersey.
Last season’s 40-goalscorer Leigh Griffiths has started the new season on a real high, scoring 3 goals in 4 Champions League qualifiers. The 25-year-old will retain his place up front.