3 curveballs Rodgers could throw for the game against Dundee

Brendan Rodgers will have a lot on his mind for Saturday’s visit of Dundee.

With the Champions League on the horizon, this match will be Rodgers’ last chance to tinker with the team before Tuesday’s trip to Rotterdam.

There are plenty of selection headaches with Reo Hatate back from injury and Liel Abada now out of action for four months with an injury he sustained whilst training on international duty with Israel.

Here are three curveballs that Rodgers could throw in for this afternoon’s game against Dundee:

Paulo Bernardo starting

Perhaps the biggest curveball of all would be giving Paulo Bernardo his first start in a Celtic jersey. Bernardo signed on loan from Benfica on deadline day but it wouldn’t take much to get him up to match sharpness as he played two 90-minute games over the international break with the Portugal under-21s.

Celtic have an option to buy for Bernardo so the club obviously sees real quality in the player who comes from the world-renowned talent factory that is the Benfica academy.

The most realistic option with Bernardo would be to give him the final 30 minutes of the game and allow Reo Hatate to get 60 minutes in his legs with the Champions League opener on the horizon. However, with Dundee being one of the weaker teams in the division, Saturday would be a safe game to give the 21-year-old his Celtic debut.


Nat Phillips’ Celtic debut

The Liverpool loanee is available for selection for the first time since joining at the end of August and, unlike Bernardo, he needs minutes in his legs. Whilst Liam Scales put in an exceptional display at Ibrox as he picked up the player-of-the-match award, many fans would still be feeling nervous should he be the man to partner Gustaf Lagerbielke against Feyenoord.

Nat Phillips has Champions League experience with Liverpool and has kept clean sheets against the likes of RB Leipzig and Real Madrid in his time at Anfield. Getting some minutes in the 26-year-old’s legs ahead of the trip to Rotterdam would be a wise move from Brendan Rodgers, although it would feel somewhat harsh on Liam Scales.

Palma on the left and Maeda on the right

With Liel Abada out injured for the foreseeable future, Rodgers has some big decisions to make regarding the wingers. This creates an opportunity for the three new wide players who arrived in the summer (Yang Hyun-jun, Marco Tilio and Luis Palma). They will all be eager to grasp their chance, but who should get the nod?

One move Rodgers could make would be the introduction of the Honduran Luis Palma. The 23-year-old scored his first goal for his national team against Grenada during the international break and will be eager to build upon what was a positive start to the season whilst at Greek club Aris Thessaloniki.

Palma is a strong finisher and prefers to play on the left, allowing him to cut inside on his stronger right foot and unleash a shot on goal. Moving Maeda to the right, allowing him to hit the byline and put crosses in on his stronger foot as well.


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