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Celtic must unleash James McCarthy against Hearts

When Celtic enter the League Cup on Sunday afternoon, they will take plenty of confidence into the clash.

The Hoops have now recorded three victories on the trot and have totted up back-to-back clean sheets. Both of those were rarities last season, so Ange Postecoglou’s men should savour that.

On the chalkboard

That being said, Celtic will have to be wary this weekend because their opposition are Hearts, a team who caused them grief on the opening day of the Premiership campaign.

The Bhoys were miles from their best as a late goal from John Souttar ensured a losing start to Postecoglou’s league reign two weeks ago. However, they are now in a very different place after scoring 13 goals in their last three outings across all competitions.

Their new signings have hit the ground running too, but one player who is yet to be seen at Parkhead or in Celtic colours is James McCarthy. The Irishman signed on the same day as Joe Hart, but with no pre-season minutes under his belt having been a free agent, he is some way behind in terms of his fitness.

Should McCarthy play on Sunday?

Yes please!

Yes please!

No thanks!

No thanks!

Postecoglou has claimed that it could be a while before we see the midfielder in full action, but with the League Cup right around the corner, now feels like the perfect time to hand him his Hoops debut.

Celtic didn’t win a single trophy last season, so the cup competitions will hold a little more significance than normal. However, with weary legs setting in against Jablonec last Thursday, the manager may favour rotation.

Tom Rogic stood out in that match but tired significantly. With an important clash with AZ Alkmaar coming up, the Australian should be given time to recover with McCarthy coming in.

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The former Crystal Palace man won’t be completely fresh himself but he’s an experienced campaigner who should be able to replace him and perform reliably at the base of midfield. Dubbed “top-class” by Postecoglou, the 30-year-old could be the heir to Scott Brown in the middle of the park.

Callum McGregor has performed admirably in a deeper role but McCarthy is more accustomed to playing there. During his last full season with Palace, he won 2.5 tackles per game, proving that he can stick his boot in and win the ball when it matters.

On that evidence, the 30-year-old might be the perfect player to combat Hearts, so Postecoglou needs to hand him some sort of role on Sunday.

AND in other news, Celtic close to signing £2.5m “creative monster”, he’s perfect for Postecoglou…

Article title: Celtic must unleash James McCarthy against Hearts

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