With Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side heading into the busy Christmas period in a fine run of form, currently being on a run of eight fixtures without defeat in all competitions, there is a great deal to be excited about at Parkhead at present.
However, with the fixtures now coming thick and fast for the Bhoys, with 11 games to play between now and the end of the year, should the 56-year-old manager wish to keep his side fighting on all fronts, he will need to manage his squad impeccably.
As such, considering the fact that Celtic have already endured something of an injury crisis this season, Postecoglou must begin rotating his side on a much more regular basis, in order to get a number of the club’s returning players back up to speed as quickly as possible – starting with the Scottish League Cup semi-final against St. Johnstone this Saturday.
Despite having highly impressed since his £3.6m move to Parkhead this summer, scoring seven goals and providing five assists over his 22 appearances in all competitions, right-winger Liel Abada would appear to be a prime candidate for Postecoglou to drop this weekend.
This is nothing to do with the 20-year-old’s level of performance, but everything to do with James Forrest’s return from injury.
Indeed, having missed the vast majority of the current campaign due to injury, the £5.4m-rated man has finally made a return to the pitch in recent weeks, playing eight minutes of Celtic’s 0-0 draw with Livingston, 20 minutes of the 3-2 win over Ferencvaros and 28 minutes of the 4-2 win over Dundee.
And, in order to get the winger fully firing once more, it would seem crucial for the 56-year-old Bhoys boss to field the 30-year-old from the off on Saturday, as, once he is back at full capacity, Forrest could be a revelation in the Celtic attack.
Indeed, Alex McLeish is well aware of how important a part of the Hoops side the Scotland international is, stating upon his injury: “Sometimes get people watching games and say, ‘What does he really do?’ James does a lot.
“When they’re out of the game, that’s when you see how big a loss they are to a team. He’s produced so many goals over the seasons and so many assists. Not only that, his work rate for the team, his tracking back, he does all that as well.”
As such, while the Israel international who Postecoglou himself dubbed a “positive” player has been in fine form for the Bhoys, the Celtic boss must axe the 20-year-old this weekend, as affording Forrest his first start since August will benefit the team much more in the long run.