Whilst the recent win at Ibrox was undoubtedly huge from a psychological point of view the fact remains that you only get the same three points for beating Rangers as you do for beating any of the other ten teams in the league.
Something Brendan Rodgers knows only too well and part of his job at this time will be keeping the players grounded and focused as they head into the next phase of the season.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s return to Scottish Premiership action he said,
“It’s only a big win against Rangers if we beat Dundee, so our focus now is on getting ready for that”
He’ll be boosted in that aim by the likely return of Reo Hatate as well as a host of our summer signings.
Hatate has now resumed full training since his enforced lay off with a calf strain and with only 48 minutes of competitive action under his belt for the season so far he’ll be raring to go.
On his day the Japanese midfielder is one of the best players in the country and Rodgers will welcome his return ahead of this one as well as the subsequent trip to Rotterdam to face Feyenoord in the Champions league
Aside from Hatate we may also be in line to see up to three of our new arrivals face Dundee on Saturday.
New Bhoys To Play Their Part
Summer signing Nat Phillips is in contention following his arrival late in the window and his inclusion could throw up an interesting centre half dilemma for the manager.
Will the Liverpool loanee be paired alongside fellow new Bhoy Gustaf Lagerbielke or does Ibrox Man of the Match Liam Scales get the nod?
It has to be Scales for me – and I’m as surprised as any to be typing that – but he’s absolutely earned the right to more gametime following his display in the derby.
Lagerbielke will be a better player for the experience but a few shaky moments showed that there’s still work to be done as he gets up to speed with life as a Celtic player.
Elsewhere it seems Liel Abada has picked up a thigh knock on international duty which may keep him out for up to a month.
Frustrating as that is will it open the door for Luis Palma to make his first appearance in the Hoops?
The Honduran picked up a goal and an assist for his country in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday) and will be raring to go following his transfer from Aris.
Will he be the man to fill Jota’s boots? We’ll soon find out.
And finally will we get a glimpse of the lesser discussed Paulo Bernardo, a player himself who has been busy on international duty with Portugal U21’s.
The most likely option is a place on the bench for the youngster who has his work cut out if he’s to dislodge Hatate, McGregor, O’Riley, Thiago Holm or Turnbull for a place in Rodgers’ midfield.
That’s life at Celtic though, but with the five subs rule now a permanent fixture it’s very much a squad game and the manager continues to re-iterate that those who finish the game can be just as important as those who start it.
The healthy competition will bring out the very best in the players – new and existing – as they battle it out for a starting jersey in Brendan Rodgers new look side.
Listen to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as the Biys get back to business following the international break.
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