Celtic endured a difficult start to the campaign, but Ange Postecoglou’s Hoops are now starting to find their form and head into their clash with AZ Alkmaar on a four-game winning streak.
The Scottish giants opened their 2021/22 season with a 3-2 loss to Midtjylland on aggregate in the Champions League qualifiers and a 2-1 defeat to Hearts in the Scottish Premiership. They have, however, followed that up by scoring 16 goals in four games against Jablonec (x2), Hearts and Dundee.
Postecoglou’s side now face Dutch opposition in the form of AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League and the Australian head coach will be hoping his team can continue their incredible goalscoring form.
Teenage forward Liel Abada missed out on Celtic’s last two matches due to a knock and is now available again for selection. He sat out the 3-0 win over Jablonec and the 3-2 win against Hearts, but is now in contention to return to the side as Postecoglou has revealed that he is ready to play.
With games now coming thick and fast throughout this month before the first international break, it is important for Celtic to rotate their side in order to avoid overplaying players. Supporters would be frustrated if a lack of load management caused a key player to suffer a crushing injury that keeps them out of the side for a prolonged period of time, so making changes is key.
30-year-old James Forrest has already played 446 minutes of competitive football this season and it could be the perfect opportunity to give him a rest and unleash Abada to make an impact against Alkmaar. The 19-year-old, who joined the club for £3.5m this summer, has the quality to be a game-changer for the Hoops
Postecoglou hailed the forward as unbelievable last week and explained his absence against Jablonec in the second leg of their Europa League clash. He said:
“He pulled up a bit sore yesterday. He’s 19 and we’re throwing him in there.
“He’s been unbelievable but I just felt it was about time to give him a rest. The medical team think he should be alright for Sunday. We erred on the side of caution.”
Abada has started his career in Scotland in fine fettle, with two goals and two assists in five appearances. Despite only playing 90 minutes in one of those five games, he has been able to show off his quality in the final third by delivering end product to go with his performances.
This shows that the £2.7m-rated talent can change a game by scoring or creating a goal from out wide. Therefore, Postecoglou must rest Forrest and unleash Abada against Alkmaar to give the Eredivisie side something different to think about whilst defending.