Rangers blinked on Tuesday night versus Aberdeen when they dropped two points at Pittodrie. The result must have uplifted the spirit in the Celtic camp who are now only four points behind the Gers in the Premiership race. They won the Parkhead tie versus Hibernian earlier this week but must prepare themselves now for the weekend’s Scottish Cup contest against Alloa Athletic.
The Wasps, currently struggling in the third tier of the Scottish pyramid, will host the Glasgow giants on Saturday evening. It’s a big occasion for the minnows and the Hoops are expected to field an experimental lineup at Recreation Park before next midweek’s tricky away test against Hearts.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Alloa Athletic
With Conor Hazard out on loan at HJK and Vasilis Barkas transfer-listed over a potential winter exit, Scott Bain is expected to make a rare appearance between the sticks after extending his Celtic contract this week. Joe Hart should be rested for this Cup tie.
Ange Postecoglou is likely to rotate the defenders with ample options to select from. Anthony Ralston is set to operate from his preferred right-back role, whereas Liam Scales should get the nod to occupy the left-back spot. Young Stephen Welsh must return to the starting XI, however, it remains to be seen if Christopher Jullien is considered for this Cup outing.
The French centre-half has not featured for more than a year after a severe knee injury. But he is back now in full training as well as closed-door practice games. Nir Bitton might also be viewed as a makeshift option if the gaffer decides to rest both Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt.
While David Turnbull is still recovering from an injury, Postecoglou must not risk the other first-team stars in the centre of the pitch. Reo Hatate was exquisite on his debut and it’s Yosuke Ideguchi’s turn to impress the supporters after a cameo on Monday night. Nir Bitton should dictate the show as the deep-lying playmaker if not deployed in the defensive third, also the experience of James McCarthy would form a balanced set-up in the middle of the park.
Giorgos Giakoumakis should lead the line after a slow start to life in Scotland. Teenage prodigy Adam Montgomery deserves minutes down the left, so is Michael Johnston, the other academy graduate, who had fitness woes in recent years. The 22-year-old Scotsman might operate from the right to showcase his swift footwork, skills and scoring traits.