Hamilton Academical vs. Celtic
Friday 8th September
New Douglas Park
Kick Off: 19:45
BT Sport 1
The wait is over and normal service will once again be resumed as Celtic travel to New Douglas Park to take on Hamilton Academical.
When the sides last met back in April, the Hoops emerged victorious, courtesy of a double provided by Moussa Dembele. However, it’s a new season and with an international break behind them and a Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Gemain ahead of them, who knows how Celtic will perform come kickoff on Friday night.
Arguably the biggest challenge facing Brendan Rodgers and his squad heading in to this match is that of fatigue. Many of his first team regulars featured for their respective countries over the international break, including the Scottish contingent who featured heavily in both of their matches, which is something he’ll surely be aware of when selecting his starting XI. As such, there may be an opportunity for some of the players who find themselves slightly further down the pecking order to step up and impress come Friday.
One potential absence come Friday is Celtic’s star striker, Leigh Griffiths. Griffiths, who started in both of Scotland’s international fixtures, scored against Malta but was subbed off due to a tightness in his calf and is a doubt for Friday’s game. However, even if he was to recover in time for the Accies match, with the PSG game loomingone wonders if Brendan Rodgers would be tempted to rest Griffiths just to be safe. If Griffiths is rested on Friday, that raises the question of who fills in for him?
What are the odds on Edouard starting on Friday?
The natural replacement would be deadline day signing, Odsonne Edouard. Brendan Rodgers revealed during his pre-match press conference that the young, French striker will be included in tomorrow’s squad, but given the fact that he’s still a new to the club and (due to the international break) has yet to make an appearance for us, it’s perhaps unlikely that he'll start, but it's certainly not out of the question.
If the manager decides against starting with Edouard, another potential option could be James Forrest. When both Griffiths and Dembele were side-lined with injury earlier this summer, Rodgers looked to Forrest to lead the line. If he was to go with Forrest up front, that could mean we see our new no.7, Patrick Roberts return to the starting XI to replace Forrest out on the right.
Turning our attention to the other end of the pitch: Jozo Simuovic is likely to miss Friday’s game due to the Accies artificial pitch and whilst Dedryck Boyata is back in training, he’s not yet ready to return in a playing capacity. As such, we’re likely to once again see Kristoffer Ajer and Nir Bitton fill in as our central defensive pairing.
Now what of our opponents, Hamilton?
Well the Accies have made a decent start to their league campaign, as they currently sit in fourth with 7 points. Whilst they lost to Aberdeen in their opening match of the season, they went on to beat Dundee 3-0, Hibs 3-1 and drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock. Whilst one would think that a victory against Celtic might be overly ambitious, they’ll certainly be hoping to capitalize on potential fatigue and possibly snatching a draw.
Rakish Bingham, has been pinging them in for the Accies this season
Rakish Bingham has been Hamilton’s main attacking threat so far this season netting two goals, both of which came against Dundee, and will surely be hoping to add to that tally come Friday.
Other players to look out for are the midfield trio of Darian MacKinnon (who’s chipped in with both a goal and an assist to his name this season), Ali Crawford (one goal so far this season) and Greg Docherty, who’s been one of the Accies standout performers.