The controversial Dubai trip has led to COVID-19 crisis within the Celtic camp. An array of first-team stars are in self-isolation and the Hoops, thus, will be banking on some academy graduates against Livingston similar to their Monday night contest against Hibernian. A late equalizer from Kevin Nisbet handed the Bhoys yet another blow in their ‘ten in a row’ mission and the in-form Livi would be upbeat as they set to lock horns with the reigning champions in back to back fixtures.
Celtic will host the Saturday afternoon tie before travelling to West Lothian for Wednesday night’s clash. Both Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy won’t be in the dugout and the responsibility, therefore, will be on Gavin Strachan once more who endured a late heartbreak earlier this week. However, they still have a few senior names who need to step up their game and avoid further misery in the upcoming weekend.
4-2-3-1 Celtic Predicted Lineup To Face Livingston
Both Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain were absent from Monday’s squad, but the emergence of Conor Hazard must be a significant boost following his promotion as the first-choice custodian ahead of the Greece international in recent weeks.
Christopher Jullien, though sidelined for months, was part of the squad’s Dubai trip. He was the one who caught the virus and forced his teammates into quarantine. The massive misfortune resulted in the absence of Kristoffer Ajer and Hatem Abd Elhamed, whereas it is still unclear whether Nir Bitton would return to action having served his suspension for the marching order against bitter rivals Rangers. Youngster Stephen Welsh has a few senior appearances under his belt and is expected to retain his place alongside Shane Duffy in the heart of the Hoops’ defence. Jeremie Frimpong has been a revelation from his right-back slot and the Glasgow giants should prefer the experience of Diego Laxalt over 23-year-old Greg Taylor down the left-hand side.
Ismaila Soro was allowed to play his part and the young Ivorian should form a double pivot alongside Ewan Henderson. The 20-year-old academy graduate has been there for a while and a starting status would see Callum McGregor operating from the wide.
Although versatile, McGregor should start from the left allowing in-form David Turnbull to occupy the right-midfield role. Tom Rogic needs to step up and grab his chances amid the absence of skipper Scott Brown, Ryan Christie, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Olivier Ntcham. James Forrest, out with an ankle injury, has made significant strides in recent weeks but is unlikely to make it for the Livi fixture.
The absence of Odsonne Edouard, Leight Griffiths, Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala has left Celtic with no senior centre-forward and the decision of deploying teenager Cameron Harper as the ‘number 9’ did not work out either. Lennon should try his luck with Michael Johnston who featured from the flank versus Hibs but is capable enough to lead the line considering his flexibility and expertise across the frontline.
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