Who will make Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI against St Johnstone?

Celtic fans will be looking for a response from Brendan Rodgers’ side when they welcome the visit of St Johnstone to Celtic Park on Saturday. There is no better time for Celtic to face the Perthshire side as the Saints’ only domestic win this season came against Alloa Athletic in the Viaplay Cup group stages.

St Johnstone currently sit at the bottom of the cinch Premiership and this match provides the final opportunity for Brendan Rodgers to make any final tactical tweaks or changes to the Celtic team ahead of next weekend’s derby against Rangers at Ibrox.

So with this in mind, how will Celtic line-up against St Johnstone? Here is A Celtic State of Mind’s predicted lineup:

GK – Joe Hart:

The former England no1 has proven to be prone to a mistake in a Celtic shirt, but this season Hart has been solid enough with no real errors coming in domestic games so far. Rodgers has been encouraging Hart to rush the ball to safety as opposed to trying to play out from the back and this has alleviated a lot of the pressure that was on the 36-year-old’s shoulders.

RB – Alistair Johnston:

The Canadian was spotted back in training last Friday but Sunday’s visit to Rugby Park seemed a bit too soon for Johnston with Anthony Ralston being the preferred choice at right-back. Ralston didn’t have a poor game per say, but the quality of Johnston cannot be understated and getting minutes in the 24-year-old’s legs ahead of next weekend’s derby would be a wise decision.

CB – Gustaf Lagerbielke:

The Swede made his debut last weekend due to Stephen Welsh’s injury and it wasn’t the most ideal of debuts. However, with the current injury crisis hampering Celtic’s centre-back options, there is going to be a lot more responsibility placed on the 23-year-old’s shoulders to hit the ground running and a solid performance this weekend will be exactly what Lagerbielke needs.

CB – Tomoki Iwata:

Tomoki Iwata hasn’t played a single minute of domestic football so far this season but he could be called upon tomorrow. The Japanese cap has played most of his career games as a centre-back and he filled in in that position towards the tail-end of last season and to good effect. Iwata will need to put in a good display as he may need to be called upon for next weekend’s fixture should Celtic not pursue another centre-back option.

LB – Alexandro Bernabei:

With Greg Taylor having a poor start to the season, don’t be surprised to see the Argentine make his return to the side on Saturday. Bernabei has previously been praised by Rodgers for his work in pre-season and could be afforded the opportunity to start and make a good impression against the Saints.

CM – Callum McGregor:

McGregor hasn’t had the most inspired start to the season as he has struggled to find form and consistency so far which is very uncharacteristic. McGregor is the type of player who can play himself back into form however and having the captain back to his best will be vital for Celtic over the next few weeks.

CM – Matt O’Riley:

Arguably Celtic’s best player so far this season, O’Riley has been instrumental in Celtic’s attacking play. Whilst he didn’t have his best game last Sunday, the entire team was off form and the Dane will be back at his brilliant best this weekend.

CM – Odin Holm:

Holm made his first start for the club last weekend and was far from the worst player on the park. He has impressed in bursts so far this season with multiple appearances from the bench and if he can put in a good performance over the course of the 90 minutes against St Johnstone then he will have himself in line for a start against Rangers.

RW – Liel Abada:

Liel Abada was expected to step up in place of Jota’s absence this season and he hasn’t shown that quality so far. Abada has had a decent season so far, chipping in with goals and assists, but Celtic need more out of Abada’s general performance levels as he wasn’t up to par last weekend.

ST – Kyogo Furuhashi:

The Japanese forward was trying everything he could to get himself involved in the game on Sunday, dropping deeper than we have ever seen him before but a lack of creativity ensured that chances for Kyogo were limited. Kyogo has a good scoring record against the Saints and will be looking to get himself back in amongst the goals this weekend.

LW – Daizen Maeda:

Maeda didn’t have his best game in a Celtic shirt last weekend, however his quality is known and his off-the-ball work for Celtic cannot be understated. He is a very valuable asset to have at the club and has performed well against Rangers in particular so having him back on-form against St Johnstone will be important.


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