Former Celtic youth player and Dundee manager Jim Duffy believes that Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers will axe new loan signing Charly Musonda from the starting line-up to play Zenit.
The 21-year-old Belgian, who signed for the Bhoys in January on an 18 month loan deal from Chelsea, has started the Hoops’ last two matches, against Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle.
But Duffy, writing in his column in the Scottish Sun, believes that the attacker is too inexperienced to play in such a big match, and he could pick Scottish international Callum McGregor instead.
“Don’t be surprised if Musonda is sacrificed by the Celtic boss for Thursday’s Europa League visit of Zenit St Petersburg,” Duffy said.
“He is undoubtedly a fantastic attacking talent with a lot to offer but he’s still young and relatively inexperienced at this level.
“Brendan might just look at Callum McGregor instead, and ask him to provide a little bit more protection to the defence.”
He went on to admit hat the Belgian could still have an influence on the game, even if it was from off the bench.
“Musonda has the ability to become a big player for Celtic and there is no doubt he can have an impact against Zenit,” Duffy added.
“But first legs tend to be tight and Brendan will be telling his side they need to stay compact and organised.”
The Hoops qualified for the last 32 tie against Zenit after finishing third in their Champions League group.
They managed to win one game in the group – a 3-0 triumph over Anderlecht in Belgium – but lost every over match that they played in the group stage, including two heavy defeats to French giants PSG.
On the plus side, they did run Bayern Munich very close at Celtic Park, but still ultimately lost the game 2-1.
The Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers has got to hope that the team’s confidence hasn’t been knocked by those losses as they make their return to European action.