The 3 Celtic curveballs Brendan Rodgers could throw at Hearts

Celtic return to domestic action this weekend as they travel to Tynecastle to take on Steven Naismith’s Hearts side in Scottish football’s Sunday afternoon kick-off.

The latest international break has finally come and gone and there were plenty of Celts who impressed for their national sides, inclusing Gustaf Lagerbielke, Paulo Bernardo, Kyogo Furuhashi and Luis Palma.

The return of players from the treatment table will also be playing on Brendan Rodgers’ mind when he selects his side to face the fourth-placed Edinburgh outfit.



Here are three potential curveballs Rodgers could throw in for a tricky trip to Tynecastle.

Maik Nawrocki

The Pole had made a positive start to life at Celtic since his signing from Legia Warsaw in the summer, a deal which made him Celtic’s most expensive signing of the transfer window.

His recovery pace and passing range are his standout qualities, all key attributes in a modern-day centre-back, and he looked set for a prolonged spell in the team with Cameron Carter-Vickers out injured. Nawrocki suffered an injury blow of his own, however, in the latter stages of the Viaplay Cup second round exit against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Rodgers announced in his most recent round of media duties that Nawrocki is back in training, having joined the team over the last week. Given that Nawrocki was the most expensive signing the club made in the summer, Rodgers may feel obliged to thrust him straight back into the equation if he is match fit.



Gustaf Lagerbielke

The manager has a real head-scratcher when it comes to selecting a partner for Carter-Vickers this afternoon, as Gustaf Lagerbielke may have also reinserted himself into the equation following his exploits over the international break.

In his second appearance for Sweden, he grabbed his first goal as his side defeated Moldova in friendly action, whilst also putting in a good defensive display.

He has impressed so far in a Celtic shirt and is yet to concede a goal in domestic games when he is on the park. He was perhaps harshly dropped for Nat Phillips and he was the centre-back that eventually made way for Carter-Vickers’ return to the squad, but Rodgers could throw the Swede back in for the match at Tynecastle.

Mikey Johnston in the squad

The Irishman has been somewhat of an outcast at Celtic for the last few years. Unfavoured by Ange Postecoglou, he was loaned out to Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes where he did enough to break into Stephen Kenny’s international side.

He hasn’t featured once for Celtic this season, only making the bench for the Champions League fixtures due to his role in fulfilling the homegrown quota. His exploits for his national team have led to calls from some quarters for him to return to Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

Ever since switching allegiance to the Republic of Ireland earlier in the year, he has been in hot form on the international stage. He has constantly been a threat in the 6 games played, grabbing 2 goals in those games albeit against relative minnows Gibraltar.

A starting position would be a bit too far, but Johnston could potentially make an appearance on the bench for the trip to Tynecastle this afternoon.


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