3 curveballs Rodgers could throw in for Celtic’s trip to Livingston

Brendan Rodgers will have plenty on his mind when it comes to Celtic’s team selection for Saturday’s trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena to take on David Martindale’s Livingston.

With form and injuries all affecting the team, Rodgers could potentially make a few interesting decisions that could catch fans and the opposition off guard.

Here are 3 of A Celtic State of Mind’s curveballs for Saturday’s trip to Livingston as Celtic return to league action.

Tomoki Iwata at centre-back

Fans may have been surprised by the lack of game time for the Japanese utility man so far this season, especially considering his involvement in every pre-season game. There is clear quality in Iwata’s game as he was awarded the J-League’s Most Valuable Player the season before he arrived at Parkhead, the only of Celtic’s Japanese contingent to win such an accolade.

With Gustaf Lagerbielke facing a suspension in European competitions, ruling him out of the visit of Lazio to Celtic Park in early October, it would be a wise move to start Iwata on Saturday, especially given the current doubts surrounding the fitness of loan signing Nat Phillips.

Iwata’s height could be an issue against the towering opposition but partnering him alongside Liam Scales, who has shown his quality in winning arial duels so far this season, could be a dynamic that works. This partnership could have a similar dynamic to that of the much-missed Cameron Carter-Vickers / Carl Starfelt double-act.

Paulo Bernardo starting?

The Portuguese midfielder hasn’t started a game since joining Celtic on deadline day. The under-21 international did feature heavily over the international break, however, getting the full 90 minutes for both games Portugal Under-21’s played during the break against Andorra and Belarus.

At just 21-years-old, Bernardo needs game-time to further develop his skillset, especially if Celtic plan to activate their option-to-buy clause at the end of his loan spell.

With Reo Hatate looking shaky in the trip to Rotterdam earlier this week, it would be a bold move. Although his appearances from the bench so far haven’t shown fans too much about the Benfica man’s strengths and weaknesses, Bernardo getting a start would definitely be an interesting shout and would also allow fans and the manager to get a further look at the signing.

Yang on the wing

Livingston are a team that set up in a very defensive shape, and they are well organised and well drilled in the system that David Martindale typically deploys, making the Lions a very difficult team to break down, especially for Celtic in recent years.

Yang has proven in his appearances in the hoops that he is a very tricky and technical player with a willingness to take on a man and drive at defenders. At just 21-years-old, Yang has shown the hunger and willingness to develop his game so far at Parkhead, so bringing in the South Korean for Saturday’s trip to Livingston could be an interesting wildcard option and he could potentially be the key to unlocking that rigid Livingston defence.


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