25-year-old starts in Rodgers 4-2-3-1: Best possible Celtic XI to face Rangers
COMMENT By Matt Farr
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers should hand starts to Erik Sviatchenko and Leigh Griffiths when they visit Ibrox on Saturday.
Rodgers will be forced to draft in a replacement for crocked striker Moussa Dembele, following his hamstring injury, and there will be no one better to turn to than Griffiths.
The deputy goalscorer has netted 14 goals in all competitions this season, and will be hungry to make an impact against a vulnerable Rangers side.
But Rodgers should also consider one defensive change, with Sviatchenko recalled to the starting eleven in place of Jozo Simunovic.
The 25-year-old missed the win over Rangers on Sunday, but should be welcomed back in place of Simunovic, who is two yellow cards shy of a suspension.
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Simunovic has been an important part of Celtic’s defence in recent weeks, and Rodgers will be keen to ensure he is available for the full end of season run-in, and should hold him back in what could be a fiery Old Firm encounter.
Even if he picks up a caution, he will still be one yellow card away from a suspension, but with the Scottish Cup Final a month away, Rodgers will want all his best assets available.
No other changes should be made to the Celtic side, however, which in part comes down to the Scottish Football Association’s decision to overturn Scott Brown’s suspension for the tie.
Brown was initially set to miss the game following his red card against Ross County in their last Scottish Premiership outing, but a successful appeal on Thursday saw his red card reduced to a caution.
Nine players should therefore retain their places in the Celtic starting eleven, including Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Armstrong, Callum McGregor and Patrick Roberts.
In other Celtic news, here are three things to expect from Celtic against Rangers.