Should Tomoki Iwata start at centre-half against Livingston?

The latest knock to Celtic’s already depleted centre-back situation was not an injury, but a suspension, with Swedish centre-back Gustaf Lagerbielke ruling himself out of the visit of Lazio to Celtic Park after his red card in Rotterdam against Feyenoord.

It was some rash decision-making that really highlighted his inexperience and it leaves Celtic’s backline looking even more barebones than it was before for the first Champions League home game of the season.

The latest update on the players currently out injured is that Stephen Welsh and Maik Nawrocki will still have a way to go after Rodgers confirmed weeks ago that the pair of centre-back’s injuries were longer term.

Rodgers did, however, confirm that USA international, Cameron Carter-Vickers, will be back contributing to the team in early October, a welcome addition back to the Celtic side whilst still a while away from rejoining the playing squad.

The most notable piece of news to come from Rodgers’ latest media activities was the news that Nat Phillips is a doubt for Saturday afternoon’s early trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena to take on Livingston. Injury problems have already hampered the Liverpool loanees’ game-time in the early stages of his Celtic career, after he was substituted at half-time against Dundee after rolling his ankle just before the break.

Rodgers is still unsure of his fitness and is waiting to see how Phillips recovers over the next day or so, but throwing him out to play on the plastic pitch at Livingston may not be the greatest idea for a player low on match sharpness and fitness.

This begs the question as to who should start that fixture at the Tony Macaroni Arena, a stadium renowned for not being the happiest hunting ground for Celtic in recent years.

Liam Scales

The Irishman has seen a career resurgence so far this season, with his form in recent weeks making him almost undroppable. His willingness to step up and grab his career lifeline by the scruff of the neck has earned the respect of fans and pundits alike and he is relishing the extended run of game-time he is currently receiving.

His form makes him a nailed-on starter, but the real question is, who partners him in defence?



No Lagerbielke?

It may be in the best interests of Brendan Rodgers with the visit of Lazio to Celtic Park less than two weeks away to start Tomoki Iwata for the trip to Livingston.

If Celtic are to salvage anything from the home tie against the Italian side, then getting minutes in the legs of Iwata ahead of that game will be vital. Barring a miraculous recovery from Cameron Carter-Vickers or Nat Phillips passing a fitness test, it will be the Japanese utility man who will start that game alongside Liam Scales.

Despite lacking in the height department, Iwata has played most of his games as a professional footballer at centre-back and fought valiantly when tasked with making his first appearance of the season from the bench in a nine-man Celtic team, his role being more-or-less a case of damage limitation.

Starting Iwata in preparation for the visit of Lazio would be a smart decision from Brendan Rodgers.


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