With arguably the biggest game of Ange Postecoglou’s short Celtic career coming up in the Europa League on Thursday, as a win could potentially see the Bhoys take a huge step towards securing what initially looked to be a highly unlikely route out of their group, the 56-year-old will undoubtedly be thinking long and hard about his starting XI for the clash.
There is yet further incentive for Celtic to get one over on Bayer Leverkusen this week, as the Bundesliga side stuck four past the Bhoys at Parkhead in the reverse fixture – a result which appears to have inspired the Hoops on a run of nine consecutive games without defeat in all competitions.
So, with so much riding on the match, it is essential for the Greek-Australian boss to get his team right for the trip to the BayArena – with one player who has made a very strong case for a start in recent fixtures being James Forrest.
Having recently returned from a training ground injury – a knock which kept the 30-year-old sidelined for ten weeks – Postecoglou has been slowly reintroducing the winger to first-team football, with Forrest featuring for eight minutes against Livingston, 20 minutes against Ferencvaros, 28 minutes against Dundee and 21 minutes against St. Johnstone last weekend.
It was the latter of these appearances which proved that the £5.4m-rated man is ready for a start on Thursday, as, just four minutes after being brought on in the League Cup semi-final, the man who Kieran Tierney dubbed a “brilliant” player inspired Celtic to a dramatic win, drilling home to send the Bhoys end wild, and securing his club’s spot in the final.
Aside from Forrest’s impressive impact last weekend, another reason why Postecoglou simply must start the £15k-per-week winger on Thursday is the rather contrasting recent displays of Liel Abada, as, aside from a good showing against Ferencvaros, the 20-year-old has not been in the best of form over the past month or so.
As such, with a win being of the utmost importance in Germany, the 56-year-old Bhoys boss must unleash the man who Tam McManus claimed “always shows up” for the Hoops – as he could well be Celtic’s cup hero once again.
In other news: Celtic dealt big transfer blow, Ange will surely be fuming