As we look towards a tough test in Inverness tomorrow, we have to make-do without players. Today, it was announced that Mulgrew, Loovens, Cha and Rogne would not be in contention for tomorrow’s game along with the long-term injured Izaguirre, Brown, M. Wilson and K. Wilson. Another injury in the form of Bangura who apparently is not responding well to treatment; he could face a possible knee operation. Yes, the injury list keeps rising but from here on in, every game is vital. Every game is as important as the next if we want to keep up with Rangers, not that maintaining a twelve point gap is any easier but if we fall even more behind – it could mark the end of this season already. With three more derby matches to go, a game-in-hand and Rangers possibly messing up at some point – we still have that little bit of hope to keep moving forward which is all we can do at the moment. The Inverness game tomorrow, as is every other game from here to the end of the season, is a must-win and obviously our 3-2 defeat from last season, which ended our title hopes, will be clear in the minds of every Celtic supporter.
In relation to our defence, I’m presuming Matthews will stick at right-back and with all the absentees in central defence – Majstorovic and Wanyama will take up the two positions. I said earlier that Ledley might be chosen to fill in at left-back until a number of people reminded me that we had El Kaddouri, which for some reason I had thought was on the list of injured players. With Ledley back from injury, I have no doubt that he will automatically go into the midfield along with Forrest and Kayal. Ki is also back training but to be honest I would like to see Commons get a start tomorrow, he didn’t look his best the last game he played but that’s what he needs – game time. I would really love to see him getting back to his best, getting back to being the same player we saw and admired last season and for that to happen, he needs to play. The tricky selection for me would be the strikers. My reason for this is Hooper has come on as an impact substitution the last two games against Rennes and Hibs, and it has worked out really well (scored on both occasions). As much as I love Hooper, he’s not at his best. Along with some other players, he has not played to the best of his ability this season – so would making him be a substitution for a while urge him to work that bit harder? Samaras on the other hand has had an excellent last few games, and Stokes? Well, what can you say about Stokes? I said at the start of the season that he would end being a very important player for us and the last few games are evident of that. Stokes has an incredible work-rate and he really encourages the players around him. So, for me – I’d actually start Hooper and Stokes up front tomorrow although I have a feeling it could be Samaras. So, my team for tomorrow would be:
Forster; Matthews, Majstorovic, Wanyama, El Kaddouri; Forrest, Ledley, Kayal, Commons; Hooper & Stokes.
Although sitting bottom of the SPL (12 points) because of goal difference, Inverness are not a team to be taken lightly. Celtic will face an extremely tough test from them especially if we let in an early goal like we have done the past few matches. The main aim is for Celtic to get on the scoresheet early in the game and work on it from there – as every game is a must-win, there can be no room for losing points at any stage of the competition.
On home ground, Inverness have won two, drawn two and lost three matches, this ranks the Saints 8th in home team performances in the SPL this season. Celtic, on the other hand, have won four, drawn one and lost two matches on away ground. This ranks us 3rd in away team performances in the league.
Inverness vs Celtic, kick-off 12.30pm.