Brendan Rodgers finds himself in an extremely tricky situation regarding his team selection for tonight’s Champions League encounter with Lazio. His biggest concern will undoubtedly be in the wide areas, where Celtic’s options for this massive fixture are threadbare to say the least.
Injuries to Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada, as well as a suspension for Luis Palma, means that Celtic are going to have to start someone who rarely features in the team.
Yang Hyun-jun’s place in the side on right wing looks to be secure for this game in place of Maeda, but he will need to raise his levels following a lacklustre display against Motherwell at the weekend. The South Korean also put in an erratic display against Lazio in the reverse fixture at Celtic Park.
The dilemma around who replaces Palma on the other wing is a completely different predicament, as the options available aren’t exactly inspiring for a Champions League win-or-bust encounter.
A change of shape could always be a possibility, but if Rodgers decides to stick with his trusted 4-3-3, who slots in to replace the on-form Honduran international?
The Ireland internationalist hasn’t appeared in a Champions League group stage game for Celtic, but that could all change tonight.
Mikey hasn’t started a game for Celtic this season, but he may well get the nod against Lazio due to the dearth of wingers Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal.
Some starring roles at international level have been the highlight of Mikey’s season, and with the 24-year-old eager to secure his place in the Celtic team to earn a new contract, tonight’s fixture provides a massive opportunity for the much-maligned winger to prove his worth at Celtic.
There have been doubts over whether he is Celtic quality for years now, and he can silence all of those dissenting voices if he turns in a good performance in Rome.
Forrest was surprisingly missing from the Celtic bench against Motherwell at the weekend, but he could be thrust into the equation tonight.
Forrest featured in Celtic’s only other trip to the Stadio Olimpico to face the Biancocelesti, and he scored Celtic’s equaliser to cancel out Ciro Immobile’s opener on a night that is remembered fondly as one of Celtic’s best European performances of the last decade.
For what he lacks in sheer pace nowadays, he makes up for it with in-game intelligence and experience and Rodgers could look to depend on one of the old, trusted heads from his first tenure as Celtic boss…
Or, the gaffer could take a massive roll of the dice and start someone from left field.
The most unlikely of the three mentioned to start such an imoportant game, but with the depleted options available to Brendan Rodgers, there is a real possibility that Rocco Vata could feature from the bench tonight.
Starting him would be a massive risk from the Celtic gaffer and it could prove to be a star-making performance or a shot in the foot in what would be a real sink or swim scenario for the young Irishman.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE