Celtic kickoff their official season- and the Champions League- on Friday away to Northern Ireland champions Linfield in the second qualifying round. Here is a look at how they could and should lineup.
Injuries: we know center back Dedryck Boyata will be out for some time. Some have put October as his return date. But he’s certainly out for the qualifiers. Also joining him on the bench is likely to be captain center midfielder Scott Brown, who went off early in the 0-9 win at Shamrock Rovers.
Goalkeeper: Craig Gordon
No reason to see his place here. The Scottish international is clearly the #1 heading into the season.
Defenders: Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney
The defense needs to stay as familiar as possible in this kind of match. Time for experimentation will come later, but for now they need to have players that know each other well.
Look for the full backs to be important if and when Linfield sit back behind the ball with lots of players.
Midfielders: Bitton, Armstrong, McGregor
There will be a temptation to throw on some new boys here as well, but that would be unwise at this stage. If needed, they can come from the bench.
Bitton gives some bite to the midfield in Brown’s absence, and the others bring great attacking play and defensive work along with them.
Forwards: Roberts, Sinclair, Dembele
Once again we’ve gone with a familiar look. These three helped bring a treble, and two of the three are absolute no-brainers to start.
Dembele is just back, but he should get the nod from the start as he’s the best they’ve got up there. Sinclair was the Hoops’ best player, and it will take some doing to take that away from him.