Will Gustaf Lagerbielke be thrown straight in by Brendan Rodgers to face Kilmarnock?

Celtic will get set to start the defence of their League Cup trophy and also the defence of their domestic treble when they travel to Rugby Park on Sunday to take on Kilmarnock in the Viaplay Cup second round.

Brendan Rodgers boasts a 92% win record against current Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes, all coming against McInnes’s Aberdeen side with the only loss being a 1-0 defeat to the Dons at Celtic Park on the final day of the 17/18 season.

Rodgers’ record against Kilmarnock, however, is a lot more revealing as the former Liverpool manager has a 64% win record against Killie and a 60% win record at Rugby Park as Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock side always raised their game when up against Rodgers’ charges.

McInnes’ record against Celtic may be far from favourable with just six wins from 48 against the champions, however, his side has shown so far this season that they are no pushovers and can not be taking lightly, especially in a cup tie with Killie taking three points when Rangers visited Rugby Park on Matchday 1. Impressively, they followed that up with a goalless draw at Tynecastle against Hearts.

The Ayrshire side finished 10th in the league and made it to the semi-final of the Viaplay cup last season, losing out 2-0 to Celtic with goals from Daizen Maeda and Giorgos Giakoumakis seeing Celtic through.

Kilmarnock have had a decent summer transfer window so far, as they look to build upon that 10th-place finish with former Celts Robbie Deas and Stuart Findlay (on loan) joining from Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Oxford United respectively. Proven cinch Premiership players such as Marley Watkins and Kyle Maggenis have also joined on free transfers.

Brendan Rodgers named the same lineup he started with on flag day when he travelled to Pittodrie to take on Aberdeen last week, but changes will definitely be expected this weekend.

Cameron Carter-Vickers will be out of the squad with an injury he suffered against the Dons and Reo Hatate also won’t be available for selection with an injury he suffered in the same game.


Hatate looked like he was playing with a point to prove to the manager as he looked on course to reclaim his place in the team, but the injury cut his match short, with Odin Holm replacing him from the bench and impressing.

With David Turnbull turning in a below-par performance, Rodgers could be inclined to shake things up in the midfield. The early stages of the cup competition have always allowed Celtic to rotate the team and give some of the players whose minutes have been limited a chance, but with a tough away trip Rodgers may opt to go full strength.

A curve-ball that Rodgers could also throw would be to introduce new Swedish centre-back signing Gustaf Lagerbielke into the fray. Playing on the plastic park at Kilmarnock might not be the most risk-free way to give Lagerbielke his first start, with the league fixture against St Johnstone the following week looking a lot more comfortable.

The 23-year-old mentioned when speaking to A Celtic State of Mind at the fan media press conference yesterday that he would be fit and ready to play if called upon. With Stephen Welsh picking up an injury at training today, Lagerbielke could well be thrown right into the action.


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