With the international break coming to a close, attention turns back to the Scottish Premiership action where Celtic travel to the Ibrox to face Rangers in a much-awaited derby showdown on Sunday.
Ange Postecoglou’s Hoops are three points clear of Rangers at the top of the table with seven games left to be played. They head to the Ibrox off a 4-0 thumping of Ross County, extending their unbeaten run in the league since the start of October.
A serious title charge is well underway, and a win for Celtic would not only earn them the bragging rights against Rangers but also extend their lead to six points at the summit.
Celtic Team News
Celtic have been handed an injury worry ahead of the Glasgow derby with defender Stephen Welsh forced off for Scotland under-21s against Kazakhstan U-21s with a groin problem.
Kyogo Furuhashi has not featured even once this year due to injury, and while he has returned to training, Sunday’s game could come too soon for him. Tom Rogic had to come off during the first half of the 4-0 victory over Ross County which kept him out of the Australia squad, so he remains a bid doubt.
Predicted Celtic lineup vs Rangers
Joe Hart is Celtic’s first-choice goalkeeper and should start against Rangers at the weekend.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt have formed a strong partnership at the heart of the Celtic backline, and Ange Postecoglou would not risk altering it. Greg Taylor and Josip Juranovic will retain their spots at full-back, offering energy and creativity to the Hoops.
Callum McGregor is the skipper of the Celtic side and his experience will come in handy in the derby. The Scotsman has been transformed into a holding midfielder by Postecoglou this season, and he will be responsible for initiating attacks from deep and breaking the hosts’ play.
Reo Hatate will join McGregor in the engine room, and he will be expected to add dynamism and creativity to unlock the tight Rangers backline. With Tom Rogic doubtful, Matt O’Riley appears to be a clear favourite to replace the Australian in the starting XI and complete Celtic’s midfield trio.
Giorgos Giakoumakis scored a fine hat-trick against Ross County before the international break that took his season’s tally to eight goals in 14 games. The Greek is a certainty to lead the Celtic attack, flanked by Jota and Daizen Maeda.
If the trio of Maeda, Jota and Giakoumakis click into gear on Sunday, the Rangers defenders could be in for a long afternoon at their own patch.