Celtic are on the verge of reclaiming the Premiership crown, but the defeat against Rangers in the Scottish Cup semifinal has to be the wake-up call ahead of locking horns with Ross County at Victoria Park. Although they thrashed the Staggies 4-0 a month ago, the Sunday afternoon contest will be a different ball game altogether, given the home side’s steady rise throughout the first phase of the competition.
The Hoops grabbed a thrilling 2-1 win in Dingwall when these two sides clashed heads back in December. Despite being down to ten men, right fullback Anthony Ralston scored late in the stoppage time to secure all three points. A gruelling 120 minutes saw many of Ange Postecoglou’s men struggling during last weekend’s derby. However, a whole week’s rest has now helped them recover and regain fitness before travelling to Highland.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Ross County
Joe Hart has been the Celts’ ‘number 1’ across competitions. The English veteran has restored stability between the sticks and is expected to retain his place for the upcoming tie.
Josip Juranovic is sidelined after picking up an injury against the Gers. Ralston must grab this opportunity after losing his place to the Croatian midway through the ongoing campaign. The gaffer was forced to take Greg Taylor off last weekend, but the young left fullback is likely to return to action for the Ross County game. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt must continue as the central defensive pairing even though the Swedish centre-half’s late own goal knocked Celtic out of the Scottish Cup. Liam Scales, Stephen Welsh and Christopher Jullien are the other defensive options who have been the understudy to their first-team stars.
Ever-present Callum McGregor must pull the strings from his deep-lying midfield role. Reo Hatate has struggled of late amid fixture congestion and the manager must opt for Matt O’Riley alongside Tom Rogic who have been impressive in their respective box-to-box roles. Hatate, as well as Nir Bitton, Yosuke Ideguchi and James McCarthy, might get involved at a later stage as second-half substitutes.
Giorgos Giakoumakis is back in team training at Lennoxtown recovering from a hamstring strain. The Greek ‘number 9’ should spearhead the attack, but the likes of Daizen Maeda and Filipe Jota have to deliver from the flanks. James Forrest and Liel Abada might get introduced as ‘super subs’; however, Kyogo Furuhashi’s minutes must be managed carefully, particularly after his long injury layoff.