Celtic will finally return to action on Tuesday when they face KR Reykjavik in the Champions League first qualifying round at Celtic Park.
Unlike past seasons, this is a one-legged tie, meaning the stakes are raised and there is no margin for error.
By the time kick-off arrives, it’ll have been nine days since the Hoops were last in action due to the selfish and stupid actions of left-back Boli Bolingoli, who jetted off to Spain for a day without the club’s consent and failed to quarantine upon his return. The champions’ two games against St. Mirren and Aberdeen were then be postponed.
Lennon will want his side to return to winning ways, especially after their frustrating 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock. Ryan Christie’s early long-range free-kick was cancelled out by Chris Burke’s penalty (stupidly given away by Chris Jullien).
Tuesday’s opponents KR Reykjavik are the reigning Icelandic top-flight champions. They’re nine games into their season and currently sit in second place, though they slumped to a 2-1 home defeat against FH Hafnarfjördur on Friday.
That was Reykjavik’s first game in two weeks, as the Icelandic government ordered sporting events to be cancelled following an increase in virus cases.
Celtic and Reykjavik did meet six years ago in the Champions League second qualifying round. The Hoops secured a 1-0 away win, with Callum McGregor finding the net five minutes from full-time. When the Icelandics came to Celtic Park, it was a one-sided affair with the Scots cruising to a 4-0 win.
New Bhoy Albian Ajeti will seemingly start on the bench with Mikey Johnston and Leigh Griffiths still out of action.
With all that in mind, here’s the XI that we think Neil Lennon will select for the must-win game.
GK: Vasilis Barkas
Looks set to make his European debut and second appearance overall for the club. Never really put a foot wrong against Killie and can’t be blamed for the penalty.
RB: Jeremie Frimpong
Remains the number one choice at right-back. Can hopefully inject some pace and energy down that right-hand-side.
CB: Christopher Jullien
Looked shaky when faced with the task of dealing with Killie striker Kabamba, further showing his inability to fully deal with physical strikers. Here’s hoping he rectifies his mistakes on Tuesday!
CB: Kristoffer Ajer
Both Ajer and Jullien will need to remain composed and structured at the back. The Norwegian is a player of good ability and can be solid when he’s on his game.
LB: Greg Taylor
’Celtic’ and ‘left-back’ aren’t exactly buzz words that have garnered positive headlines in the past week or so. However, Taylor will be determined to put in a good performance and show that he’s first-choice left-back on merit.
CM: Scott Brown (C)
I’m sure he’ll have the team fired up and ready to go on Tuesday. He’s not been at the top of his game since the season began, but he’s still a key player in midfield.
CM: Callum McGregor
Will once again slot in beside Brown in the centre of the park. Is capable of a defence-splitting pass and has the engine to run for days.
CAM: Ryan Christie
It’s that time again. The debate that’s got people talking once more: Christie or Ntcham? It’s a tough one, especially given the ability that Ntcham possesses. The Frenchman is too good to be sitting on our bench, but I think Lennon will once again opt for Christie (who is also an effective player). If it were me, the Frenchman would be slotting in that midfield – but I’m not the manager!
RM: James Forrest
The right-wing role is another position I feel the club should be looking to strengthen. Forrest needs healthy competition and, while we have Karamoko who has bags of potential, another player of good quality would bolster our attacking force.
LM: Mohamed Elyounoussi
Always looks to get forward and link-up in the final third. A definite starter.
ST: Odsonne Edouard
Will be looking to net his fourth goal of the season and his first in Europe of the new campaign. When Ajeti is up to speed then perhaps we’ll see more of him and Eddy linking up in a 3-5-2.