Celtic are back in league action tomorrow afternoon as they travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena to take on David Martindale’s Livingston.
West Lothian hadn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Celtic in recent years, but Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side eventually overcame that hoodoo, and it has been relatively plain sailing since then.
Despite spending just under three years in the Celtic manager’s post in his first tenure at the cub, Rodgers has only ever managed two games against The Lions. Those games yielded a 3-1 home win against a side that was managed by former Celt Kenny Miller, and a 0-0 draw away from home, the beginning of Celtic’s poor run of form in Livingston.
Rodgers has never managed against current Livi boss David Martindale, who has deployed a pragmatic and defensive set-up whenever playing against Celtic.
Celtic will be sweating over the fitness of Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips, with the English centre-back being out of action for Tuesday’s game after rolling his ankle just before half-time against Dundee. Brendan Rodgers confirmed in his most recent press conference that Phillips is a doubt for the trip to Livingston, leaving just three from eight centre-backs available for selection.
Livingston have had a mixed bag of a start to the season, with David Martindale’s side currently sitting in 7th place in the cinch Premiership. The Lions only have one league win on the board, coming away to a struggling Hibs side, who responded to the defeat by sacking Lee Johnson. Their only loss in the league came at Ibrox, where they were on the receiving end of a 4-0 demolition job.
Three draws this season, including the most recent result up in Dingwall against Ross County, has been the story of their campaign so far. As Celtic fans know, however, no matter what sort of form Livingston are in they can always turn up when Celtic travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Reo Hatate, on the other hand, is getting closer to full fitness and will provide a welcome boost to the squad, despite his lacklustre display in Rotterdam during the week.
The players will be eager to impress and put up a good performance, especially the likes of Liam Scales, who has been handed a career lifeline in recent weeks due to our defensive injury crisis. Continuing his recent form will go a long way in securing his place in the team before the return of the injured payers.
But who will partner Scales in the centre of Celtic’s defence? With Gustaf Lagerbielke suspended for the next Champions League match, Rodgers could look to partner the Irishman with Tomoki Iwata, with one eye on the Lazio fixture in a few weeks’ time.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE