If you thought Ronny Deila had a tough job ahead of him tonight already, it just got harder. Injuries and suspensions have excluded several Celtic players ahead of tonight’s must win game at home against Ajax.
Craig Gordon will be in goal as expected. The back four are likely to be Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Šimunović and Emilio Izaguirre.
As we already know, captain Scott Brown is out with a lengthy injury. Add to that star performer Nir Bitton and Stefan Johansen who are both suspended.
Kris Commons is also said to be unlikely to make it due to injury and illness. That leaves Celtic extremely lightweight in the one area of the field they’ve had sufficient numbers for several years now.
Charlie Mulgrew is said to be back in the fold after a long time out. There is also the availability of Scott Allan but like Mulgrew, he has rarely been seen in a Celtic jersey this season so it isn’t just about availability, it’s about match fitness.
Another player who can possibly play a holding midfield role would be Efe Ambrose. When he arrived it was mooted that he would play in that role but he has been predominantly a defender in his Celtic career, much to our disappointment.
As desperate as we are, there is also the possibility that Stuart Armstrong could play a central role. He’s been played out wide since he joined this year but I’d like to see him play in the middle of the park.
He has ability but I do question him being played in a wide role but tonight could be a defining moment for him. What I’d like to see from him tonight is him spreading his wings because he’s looks like he’s holding back a little at times and I think there is more to this player than we’ve seen.
Thankfully, Tom Rogić will be in from the start. This is one player I am pleased to say isn’t missing out tonight because he has been a breath of fresh air.
He’s been so good this season, he has overtaken a less than impressive Johansen who was king of the attacking midfield last season. Rogić’s form has been immense and has been loving every moment on the park.
So Ronny has got some decisions to make for the midfield. On the wings it is bound to be a combination of Gary Mackay-Steven and James Forrest.
There is also the option of playing Callum McGregor. Kieran Tierney has found himself getting forward in games as well so if he doesn’t start the match he is another in with a shout.
Leigh Griffiths a certainty to spearhead the attack, so the the focus is on the midfield blend. Get that right and we might just have a game on our hands.
Ajax believe that they are a better team than Celtic but they can stutter just as much. In truth I think both teams are about the same.
This will be an edge of the seat affair. Our Europa League campaign rests on this evenings result.