Simunovic Returns, Forrest Starts – Predicted 4-2-3-1 Celtic XI vs. Ross County

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Celtic maintained a 14-point lead at the top of the table with a comfortable 3-0 win over Hamilton Accies at the New Douglas Park on Saturday. Controversy erupted when referee Willie Collum sent off Callum McGregor early in the second half – a decision that Rodgers felt was ‘awful’. Regardless, Celtic were hardly troubled as goals from Leigh Griffiths, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Dembele sealed the deal for the visitors and prolonged a 22-game unbeaten domestic streak so far this season.

All the focus must now be towards the trip to Ibrox on New Year’s Eve, but Rodgers’ men have to stay alert when they welcome 6th placed Ross County to Parkhead on Wednesday night as Celtic continue to chase a historic unbeaten domestic treble.

Team News: A major selection dilemma awaits Brendan Rodgers ahead of this game given the huge game that awaits the Hoops against Rangers at the Ibrox. He might be tempted to rest certain key players, but Callum McGregor’s dismissal at Hamilton must be a cause for another headache.

The major fitness issue that plagues Celtic at present is that of star Aussie playmaker Tom Rogic who will not feature in this game and is in a race against time to get fit for Saturday night. Kieran Tierney remains ruled out.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Craig Gordon

Celtic’s undisputed number 1 this season retains his spot. One wonders whether Dorus van Vries will be given a start anytime soon though.

Cristian Gamboa

The summer signing from West Brom has really benefitted from an extended run in the team and begun to show his true potential.

Jozo Simunovic

jozo-simunovic

Brendan Rodgers preferred not to risk the injury prone Croatian on the artificial turf used at Hamilton last time out, he comes back in.

Erik Sviatchenko

While Mikael Lustig has performed reasonably well whenever played as a central defender, there is no comparison with the first-choice pairing of Simunovic and Sviatchenko.

Emilio Izaguirre

Emilio Izaguirre started against Hamilton after being benched for the game against Partick Thistle. With Kieran Tierney edging closer to a return, it is unlikely the Honduran will be given any more rest through the festive period.

Scott Brown

Celtic’s captain has been a dependable force in the centre of midfield – always ready to pull the strings for his side. Has had a remarkable change in fortune since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers.

Stuart Armstrong

Stuart Armstrong’s rise has been equally remarkable in his new central midfield role. His style of play complements that of Scott Brown well, which has led to a phenomenal partnership between the two. Scored a cracking 30-yard thunderbolt at Hamilton which left even his skipper in awe.

James Forrest

James Forrest replaced Scott Sinclair for the last 15 minutes at Hamilton and had a decent showing given that he had been forced to sit out of the previous 4 fixtures. Even collected an assist for Dembele’s goal in his brief run.

Patrick Roberts

The Manchester City loanee started in the No.10 position in the absence of the injured Tom Rogic and with Callum McGregor further suspended for this game due to his sending-off, Brendan could look towards Roberts again.

Scott Sinclair

Scott Sinclair endured a frustrated time due to a hamstring injury he picked up against Manchester City and was forced to miss quite a significant chunk of fixtures including the League Cup final. But he has marked his return to action just as how he had left – linking up plays, creating goals or scoring them himself!

Leigh Griffiths

Brendan Rodgers described Leigh Griffiths’ half-time substitution as just precautionary and with Moussa Dembele in all likeliness set to start in the Old Firm derby on New Year’s Eve, Griffiths should start this one.

Written by Mrinal Narang

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