Chris Sutton has warned Celtic’s ‘reserves’ that they will be out of their comfort zone on Thursday.
After a run of three matches against St. Johnstone broken by a visit from manager-less Hibs, the Hoops face Valencia in the Europa League.
When the draw was made Valencia seemed to be in free fall but have risen up the league with an impressive 2-2 draw away to Barcelona last Saturday.
Brendan Rodgers has had bigger battles with the treatment room since the turn of the year than with Celtic’s domestic competitors but Thursday’s La Liga opponents will be an entirely different proposition.
In his Daily Record column Sutton states:
Brendan Rodgers’ squad has been completely wrecked by a freakish injury list. No disrespect to the ones coming in but you could say Celtic reserves have been unbeaten in 2019.
It’s a huge loss having to do without top players like Kieran Tierney, Filip Benkovic and Tom Rogic. You can throw Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths in to the mix and it’s been seriously impressive how they have gone about their business since the winter break.
But let’s be brutally honest. They haven’t really been tested yet. They will be on Thursday.
Valencia have shown a bit of form of late and they will fancy their chances. It’s a tough draw but Celtic shouldn’t be discounted, even with the injury problems.
Rodgers will take note of his walking wounded after Sunday’s match against St. Johnstone with particular emphasis on Kieran Tierney, Odsonne Edouard, Olivier Ntcham and James Forrest.
The availability of those four would certainly boost the ‘reserves’ as they attempt to improve on last season’s European campaign which ended in the last 32 of the Europa League through a 3-1 defeat to Zenit St Petersburg.