Celtic find themselves in the lunchtime slot once again this weekend as they take the short trip to Fir Park to take on fourth placed Motherwell on Saturday.
Whilst Stuart Kettlewell’s side have been on decent form of their own across the first half dozen fixtures of the new campaign it’s unbeaten Celtic who are undoubtedly the form side in the Scottish Premiership.
Three wins from three difficult away ties at Pittodrie, Ibrox and Livingston have injected a new belief and confidence into Brendan Rodgers’ side with the manager praising the players for the attitude they’ve shown since his arrival.
“I think the team have taken a really big mental step forward, and I think you see that in how their performing.” he said.
“The determination, the intensity, the quality’s starting to move forward into the levels that I want to get to, and that’s always the beginning of a really good team.”
One player in particular who should be raring to go at Fir Park will be Reo Hatate, fresh off the back of signing his new five year deal.
Transfer peculation surrounded the Japanese star across the summer but with his future finally settled – at least for the medium term – we should now start to see the best of the talented midfielder.
Along with Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley, the trio are the best midfielders at the club and hopes are high that the young Dane makes it three out of three in terms of contract extensions as the club continue to carry out some impressive business on that front.
All three will be expected to line-up together once more come Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off
Elsewhere Rodgers find himself with two big calls to make across his defensive line.
Joe Hart finds himself suspended for this one following his dismissal at Livingston and so it’s a straight choice between Scott Bain and Benjamin Seigrist for who replaces him between the posts.
The latter hasn’t appeared in a competitive squad this season however and so it looks likely that Bain will continue to deputise.
His cameo against Livingston wasn’t hugely convincing but he’ll be presented another opportunity to show why he, and not Siegrist was named as Hart’s backup in our Champions League squad.
In front of him Gustaf Lagerbielke and Liam Scales have shown promising signs as Celtic’s makeshift centre half pairing, but the return of Nat Phillips from injury threatens to disrupt the duo.
Signed as emergency cover for the injured trio of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Welsh, the 26 year old was brought to the club with games like Lazio (on Wednesday) in mind – so will the manager give him the required game time against the Steelemen as he looks to get up to speed?
And if so, then who misses out?
The most likely scenario would see Lagerbielke and Scales continue with Phillips then introduced in the second half.
We’ve been wrong before though, and we’ll also go on to be wrong again (frequently!).
GOALS CHANGE GAMES
Despite their positive start to the season Motherwell have found themselves with an issue when it comes to finding the back of the net.
Losing a striker in the form of Kevin Van Veen is a big factor in that, and his twenty league goals across last season’s campaign would be tough for any side to replace.
That’s the challenge for Stuart Kettlewell and his board however, and with just six goals from six league games so far it’s a problem they’ll be keen to solve sooner rather than later.
Celtic have no such worries and are currently averaging 2.3 goal per game with a tally of fourteen goals from their six league games.
Those goals have come from no less than six different players, with Kyogo and Matt O’Riley leading the charts with four apiece.
The smart money would be on the Hoops adding to that tally tomorrow, but they won’t find it easy against a stubborn Motherwell side on their home turf.
Listen to The Countdown To Kick-Off here as Tino & Paddy cover all the big talking points ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
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