3 curveballs Brendan Rodgers could throw in for St Johnstone challenge

Celtic put in a dismal and lifeless performance on Sunday as they dropped out of the Viaplay Cup at the hands of Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Naturally, after a poor display and an uninspiring first few games, there have been calls for a shake-up amongst the Celtic starting XI for Saturday’s league fixture against St Johnstone.

With the Rangers game looming on 3rd September, this is the final chance for Brendan Rodgers to tinker or experiment with the team ahead of a game of such magnitude.

Keeping that in mind, here are 3 potential curveballs Brendan Rodgers could throw in for the visit of St Johnstone.

Tomoki Iwata

With the current injuries making the squad very threadbare, the introduction of Tomoki Iwata may be exactly what this Celtic team needs, and he could slot into the side in a number of different positions.

With Celtic having just two fit centre-backs available in the squad – Gustaf Lagerbielke and Liam Scales – Iwata could fill in at the heart of the defence, much like he did towards the tail-end of last season. Getting minutes in his legs before the impending visit to Ibrox would be a wise move from Rodgers.

However, with the poor form of Callum McGregor and considering how easily the midfield has been bypassed over the last few weeks, playing Iwata alongside the Celtic captain could provide the steel and defensive stability that the engine room has been lacking in the early stages of this season.

There is clearly a player there as he played a key part in Ange’s success over in Japan and, prior to his arrival at Parkhead, he had won the J-League Player of the Year, the only of Celtic’s current crop of Japanese talent to do so. He just needs the game-time to prove his worth at Celtic and this may be the sliding doors situation that allows him to do so.

Yang Hyun-Jun

In the limited game-time that the South Korean has been afforded since his arrival from Gangwon FC, Yang has impressed. He has shown supporters that he likes to take on opposition defenders and he looked very lively when given the opportunity.

On Sunday, very few players covered themselves in glory and looked like they could grab the game by the scruff of the neck, but Yang looked like the most likely player to make something happen after his introduction in the 64th minute. This is something that fans will take notice of and it won’t go unnoticed by manager Brendan Rodgers either.

Given how little action Celtic were getting out of the wide areas at Rugby Park, rolling the dice and giving Yang the full 90 minutes to try and secure his place in the starting XI could be an option for Brendan Rodgers on Saturday.


Returning to an inverted full-back system

The glaring problem over the last few weeks has been just how easily the Celtic midfield has been overran. You could put this down to a lack of energy in the middle of the park with the likes of David Turnbull not doing a lot of the defensive work.

Contrary to this belief, it could be down to the Celtic rearguard struggling to revert away from the way Ange Postecoglou set up his Celtic side with so much of the emphasis of play being on the inverted full-backs.

This would not only provide more stability in the middle of the park in what will be a competitive and hostile atmosphere at Ibrox, but it could also bring the best out of Greg Taylor again after his early season struggles.

This wouldn’t be that far-fetched of an idea either given the fact that Rodgers implemented this system on a number of occasions in his time as Leicester City boss.


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