With the dreaded international break now at an end, Scottish champions Celtic return to action against Motherwell at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon, with the Old Firm outfit looking to bounce back from their defeat to St Mirren last time out.
That 2-0 loss in Paisley saw Ange Postecoglou’s side brought crashing back down to earth, with the Hoops suffering defeat in a Scottish Premiership encounter for the first time in almost a year, cutting their lead atop the table to just two points ahead of rivals Rangers.
While that result may well have been just a minor blip in what’s been an otherwise stunning 12 months or so for the club, it will have come as something of a warning to the title-winning coach, with the 57-year-old admitting his mistake at having made a raft of changes for that clash with the Buddies.
Although the former Yokohama boss may well have one eye on Wednesday’s pivotal Champions League clash away at Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, the Glasgow side can ill-afford another slip up this weekend, hence the need to put out a strong lineup against the Steelmen.
One man who simply must return to the starting XI is emerging talisman, Jota, with the Portuguese sensation having only started on the bench against Stephen Robinson’s side as Postecoglou gave a number of his key men a rest.
As that eventual loss proved, however, the Bhoys are simply a much better team with the 23-year-old in it, with the fleet-footed forward so integral to everything good about the side in an attacking sense, having already laid on four goals and four assists in just nine games in all competitions so far this term.
That tally of eight goal involvements is the highest of any member of the Celtic squad at present, with that rubberstamping just what a vital role the former Benfica man has to play in Postecoglou’s set-up, having previously netted 13 goals and registered 14 assists across all fronts last term.
Now a permanent addition at Celtic Park – having spent last term on loan at the club – the £6.75m-rated ace looks set to be a leading figure for the Scottish giants for the years to come, having notably been dubbed an “unbelievable” asset by his manager of late.
Also lauded as a player whose talent is “unlimited” by former youth coach Joao Tralhao, the winger is seemingly the main threat for the Hoops at present, having also enjoyed a stunning record against the upcoming opponents to date, with three goal contributions from his three meetings with the Fir Park outfit.
With potential injuries to the likes of Daizen Maeda and Sead Haksabanovic also making rotation difficult, Jota simply must be unleashed from the outset this weekend.