Celtic will return to league action this weekend as they travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena to take on David Martindale’s Livingston side. After a disappointing result during the week, fans will be eager to see a response and there would be no better way to bounce back than with a convincing and comprehensive result on Saturday afternoon.
There will be a few selection headaches lingering on the mind of Brendan Rodgers, with injuries and player form all playing a part.
Here is A Celtic State of Mind’s team predictions for Saturday’s early kick-off:
GK – Joe Hart
The English stopper came under fire from some supporters after his role in conceding Feyenoord’s opener on Tuesday evening. Hart went some way to making up for that mistake as he made a flying stop to deny Feyenoord from converting their penalty following Gustaf Lagerbielke’s red card. He has been solid this season with less of an emphasis on playing out from the back.
RB – Alistair Johnston
The Canadian passed his first Champions League test with flying colours during the week. In a game against The Lions on Saturday that may turn out to be a bit more of a battle, having Johnston up for the fight at the back will be key.
CB – Liam Scales
The Irishman has been great since his reintroduction to the Celtic setup, but the real test for fans would have been Tuesday’s game in Rotterdam. Scales stepped up again and was one of the standout performers in a game where it would have been so easy to crumble under the pressure, which has been a running theme in the 25-year-old’s resurgence.
CB – Tomoki Iwata
Iwata could be a left-field shout for a start on Saturday, particularly if Rodgers has one eye on the visit of Lazio to Celtic Park in a few weeks’ time.
With doubts still surrounding the fitness of emergency loan arrival, Nat Phillips, it could be a shrewd move to give the Japanese international as much game-time as possible before our next Champions League fixture. If Iwata fails to make the cut, then Gustaf Lagerbielke – suspended for the visit of the Italians in a couple of weeks – would be the only other available option at centre-half.
LB – Greg Taylor
Taylor has looked to be reaching something like his normal self in recent domestic games, and with Alexandro Bernabei seemingly out of the picture at Celtic, Taylor will be a nailed-on starter for Saturday’s trip to Livingston.
CM – Callum McGregor
McGregor has been returning to form in recent weeks, having stepped up for the visit to Ibrox. Since the pivotal derby win, the captain has looked more like his composed and consistent self.
CM – Matt O’Riley
One of Celtic’s most consistent performers so far this season, the Dane will be vital to breaking down an organised and stubbornly defensive Livingston team.
On the goals front, O’Riley has never scored more in a campaign for Celtic than four. With three already this season, it looks like the 22-year-old could be on target for his best return since arriving in Glasgow.
CM – Reo Hatate
The 25-year-old was off the boil in Rotterdam during the week, but with the Japanese playmaker lacking in match sharpness at the moment, the only way to get him back to his best is by giving him game-time.
Much like O’Riley, Reo’s creativity and risky passes will key in breaking down the Livingston defence.
RW – Daizen Maeda
There may not be as much space for Maeda to use his pace to get in behind the defence as there usually would be, but after an encouraging performance mid-week, Maeda has to stay in the team.
With Taylor and Hatate’s area of the pitch being targeted by most opponents, Maeda’s defensive qualities could also be key when Livingston counter.
LW: Luis Palma
The Honduran had a relatively quiet game in Rotterdam, but giving him his first start domestically would help the 23-year-old find some form for his new club. The fixtures will be coming in thick and fast in the coming weeks and Brendan Rodgers will need as many in-form wingers as possible at his disposal, particularly in the absence of Liel Abada.
ST – Kyogo Furuhashi
Kyogo will be looking to add to last week’s goal and assist when he faces Livingston on Saturday, as well as adding to his three goals already notched up against the Lions.
Much has been made about whether Kyogo is Celtic’s best striker since Henrik Larsson, but the jury will always be out until the Japanese forward can produce the goods at Champions League level. Having Kyogo back in amongst the goals over the next few weeks will be vital for Celtic as we prepare for the visit of Lazio to Celtic Park.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE