New Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has been handed a significant boost ahead of his first competitive game in charge of the Glasgow giants.
The Hoops welcome Danish side FC Midtjylland to Celtic Park tonight for their Champions League second qualifying round first leg tie, with both teams hoping to eventually progress to the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition.
It’s set to be a special occasion for Postecoglou, and the game will also see the largest crowd in attendance at Parkhead in almost 18 months, adding to the excitement.
“We’re going to have 9,000 people at Celtic Park,” the Australian said. “I guarantee you they will make the noise of 90,000. We’ve got to put in a really good performance for them.”
Celtic’s chances of earning a favourable result were increased after it was revealed that winger James Forrest is available for selection after finishing his self-isolation period after being in close contact of a positive Covid case.
The 30-year-old winger was sidelined for large periods of last season through injury, but his return to full fitness will provide a much-needed injection of quality to Celtic’s squad.
Forrest is set to be joined by fellow experienced forward Leigh Griffiths after Postecoglou declared the Scotland international ‘ready to go’ following an off-field incident. The striker is unlikely to start against Midtjylland after being unable to play any part in pre-season games, but he should be fit enough to take a place on the bench.
Ryan Christie, Nir Bitton and Ismaila Soro are all expected to return to the matchday setup after missing Saturday’s friendly loss to Preston North End, although there will be some high-profile absentees. Kristoffer Ajer and Olivier Ntcham have been left out of Celtic’s Champions League squad following continued speculation over the pair’s futures. [BBC]
Norway centre-back Ajer has had a fitness issue and has been heavily linked with Premier League duo Brentford and Norwich City, while there has been extensive talk regarding the future of midfielder Ntcham following his unsuccessful loan stint at Marseille in the second half of 2020/21. [BBC]
Summer signings Liel Abada and Kyogo Furuhashi have also been left out of Celtic’s squad, and Mikey Johnston is unavailable through injury. [BBC]
Despite being deprived the services of a handful of players, the returns of experienced duo Forrest and Griffiths to contention for Celtic’s latest attempt at negotiating the Champions League qualifying rounds is sure to please Postecoglou ahead of his first big test in the Hoops dugout.