How many new signings will start for Celtic against Rangers?

The anticipation is building amongst Celtic fans as the first derby match of the season under 90 minutes away. With an injury crisis and a host of recent transfers taken into consideration, this could be the most unpredictable Celtic line-up of the season so far.

Here is A Celtic State of Mind’s predicted starting XI for the first Glasgow Derby of the season:

GK – Joe Hart

Despite Celtic’s underwhelming start to the season, Joe Hart has been one of the most solid players in the team. He has been relatively untested but when called upon he has made some big saves as well as being more confident in getting rid of the ball.

RB – Alistair Johnston

The Canadian’s inclusion for the 0-0 draw against St Johnstone was positively received by ¬†Celtic supporters. The 24-year-old has relished playing in the more feisty encounters in his short time at Celtic with his debut coming in a draw at a hostile Ibrox back in January. The hope will be that Johnston is fully up to speed, as he will need to be at the top of his game to ensure victory.

CB – Gustaf Lagerbielke

The Swede may not have expected as many first-team opportunities as he has received so far, however, Celtic’s current injury crisis, especially at centre-back, has meant that Lagerbielke has been a constantin the Celtic side since his arrival. He will have to shepherd a lot more responsibility and rise to the occasion at Ibrox as he could well partner a new signing.

CB – Nat Phillips

The Englishmen just signed on loan from Liverpool until January and will most likely be in line for his first start this afternoon. Phillips has stepped up and impressed for Liverpool when called upon for Premier League action as well as Champions League encounters and will have to be ready for Sunday.

LB – Greg Taylor

Taylor hasn’t had the greatest of starts to the season but with Celtic not strengthening at left-back, there will be a lot of pressure for Taylor to step up and return to form, especially with the task of marking James Tavernier.

CM – Callum McGregor

Much like Greg Taylor, McGregor hasn’t looked himself this season. He will need to see improvements in his game to keep up with the fast-paced tempo that will be set early on in the match and he will also need some help and cover from his midfielders.

CM – Matt O’Riley

Arguably Celtic’s best player so far this season, the Dane will be one of the first names on the team sheet. With aspirations of breaking into the Danish national team, the pressure will be heightened for the 22-year-old to impress in games like this. He has shown his qualities before in derby matches and isn’t one to shy away from a tackle, so he will be eager to put in another good display this afternoon.

CM – David Turnbull

Brendan Rodgers has a major predicament when it comes to choosing his midfield, with the third slot being up for debate. Odin Holm and new signing Paulo Bernardo could be in with a shout but Turnbull seems like the safe option.

RW – Liel Abada

After securing a new four-year deal at the club, Abada has earned the trust of Brendan Rodgers. He has a history for performing well against Rangers, consistently scoring against Celtic’s arch rivals; if he can carry on that trend this afternoon it will be vital for Celtic.

ST – Kyogo Furuhashi

The Japanese forward finally got his first goal against Rangers last season and he hasn’t looked back ever since. Kyogo has been starved of service this season, however, and will need more help from his midfielders and wide men to get the chances required for success at Ibrox.

LW – Luis Palma

The Honduran declared when speaking to the media on Thursday night that he is ready if he is called upon and with Celtic’s lack of bite in the final third. Palma has averaged a goal contribution every game so far this season, so introducing the winger into the fold this afternoon could be a risky but wise move from Brendan Rodgers.


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