COMMENT By Will Butcher
Celtic stars Leigh Griffiths and Jozo Simunovic would make the reigning Scottish Premiership champions very difficult to beat, as they return from injury to face Kilmarnock.
Croatian centre-back Simunovic looked confident and assured in the Hoops’ Betfred Cup triumph against Alloa, being substituted in the 71st minute after helping his side win 2-0.
The Croatian stopper had previously failed to start a match after tearing ligaments in his knee back in January against St. Johnstone, but Rodgers is ready to make the commanding defender his first-choice centre-back and shore up the Hoops’ leaky defence.
In-form Scott Sinclair, Cristian Gamboa and Nir Bitton could join Griffiths as Rodgers makes four changes that will prove too much to handle for Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Goal machine Griffiths has finally recovered from a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined in recent weeks, and manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that he would be available for selection on Saturday.
“He trained Monday, Tuesday and he should train Thursday Friday and be back for Saturday,” Rodgers said, as quoted by the Evening Times. “That’s great news because he’s a really important player for us.”
Even if Griffiths, who scored 40 goals in all competitions last season, fails to recover to full fitness, he would still provide the attacking heartbeat in Celtic’s goal threat.
Elsewhere, Sinclair is looking to break club legend Jimmy McGrory’s record of scoring five goals in the Hoops’ opening five games. Gamboa replaces Mikael Lustig at right-back, while Bitton replaces Stuart Armstrong to solidify Celtic’s engine room.
Craig Gordon should be chosen ahead of recent first-choice goalkeeper Dorus de Vries, after keeping a clean sheet against Alloa while de Vries has conceded a dismal 11 goals in four games for Rodgers’ side.
In other Celtic news, fans reacted on Twitter after Simunovic made his return from injury.