Celtic v Udinese

Have a match for TFK on Thursday evening so will have to record this match and impose a media blackout to prevent me from finding out the score until I get home.

Good news for Celtic is that Di Natale is out for Udinese - didn’t travel with the squad to save him from burnout.

Will be interesting to see how they line-up. They generally play 3 at the back but they don’t have many striking options beyond Di Natale. Fabbrini will probably start.

Celtic won’t have El Kaddouri of course so that means Mulgrew’s return to the side is likely to take place at left back and we’ll have to suffer through Majstorovic and Loovens again. I don’t like playing Wilson at left back but I’d move heaven and earth to play Mulgrew at centre back (he has the best track record, he needs the experience, the other two are incapable and aren’t going to learn now). Could also go for Ledley at left back but I wouldn’t be breaking up that midfield from Saturday. Or the strikeforce.

Samaras will most likely come in, knowing Lennon. Would be very surprised to see Stokes and Hooper start.

Won’t we “need” Sammy for Tynecastle though?

Probably, don’t think that will stop Lennon though as he had him in the starting XI for both Atletico and the huns.

Charlie Mulgrew needs to play centre back. He’s a much improved player and a very good guy.

Outside that I don’t really know what to think. Joe Ledley must play too.

Is Scott Brown fit for this game, bhoys?

Nope. Commons is out too with an illness that kept him out of the weekend. Reading between the lines he’s been told to get himself fit again.

Okay. That simplifies the team selection in my mind. You could have argued a case for Ledley slotting back to left back and a midfield four of Brown, Ki, Kayal and Forrest or something.

But now I think we need to place Mark Wilson at left back because Mulgrew simply must be in the centre, as far as I’m concerned. I would be really frustrated if he went with Loovens and Majstorovic after the weekend’s horror show. That would leave a midfield of Forrest, Ki, Kayal and Ledley.

I’d like him to play Stokes and Hooper upfront together - not one upfront and Stokes or Samaras hanging out wide left. Stokes and Hooper can take turns dropping deeper to make it a 4-4-1-1 and to help the midfield when needs be.

I’d go with:

Matthews, Loovens, Mulgrew, M Wilson,
Forrest, Kayal, Ki, Ledley,
Stokes, Hooper.

Even typing out that keeper and back four and reading it on the screen in front of me frightens me a bit.

I’d agree with that team.

At least there was an acknowledgement from the management that the centre backs were shite at the weekend (the criticism was mild enough but it’s still rare to hear them singled out) so you’d hope there’d be enough reason to justify recalling Charles to the centre of the back four. I also think it’s not viable to switch him between the left back and centre back roles when El Kaddouri is cup-tied and not. Centre back is a big problem. Sort that first and we can cope with left back. Even if it means picking Mark Wilson or even Toshney or someone out there.

Shameful stuff.

This is a Celtic forum and we’re kicking off in just over 2 hours in a critical European tie at Celtic Park and there hasn’t been a mention of the game on here all day.

There is NOT a buzz about Celtic at the moment. I think the support are quite demoralised in truth. We plead and whined and ached for defensive reinforcements all summer and the club didn’t act despite it being blindingly obvious that we needed to strengthen.

Then we had the horrible ‘exit’ in Sion followed by the subsequent reprieve. That showcased that we just didn’t have enough quality in the squad and that point was hammered home by losing 4 goals at Ibrox.

Like I said yesterday, the squad listing and the defence in particular is pretty grim reading. It’s not too long ago that we were turning over Europe’s elite at Celtic Park; now the likes of Sion can get results here and Udinese are planning to rest some of their main players ahead of their weekend Serie A fixture.

The 6pm kick-off will do nothing for the attendance or atmosphere either. So it’s going to have to be the team giving the support something to get behind this evening, I reckon. Need a good start at a fast tempo and take it from there. 4-4-2 with Stokes and Hooper please, Neil.

Any other team news for Udinese? With Di Natale out they lose a real focal point up front, Barreto and Floro Flores are the only other two genuine central attackers in their side and both have barely featured this season, can’t recall Floro Flores even being on the bench, maybe he’s injured but he had a very impressive loan spell with Genoa last season. Fabbrini is more of an attacking midfilder and a forward. Armero and Isla will represent the big danger toward us on the flanks and their defence is really athletic so I think it will benefit us if we play Stokes and Hooper whose movement and link-up play will unsettle them.

One of the main reasons why there is no buzz around this game is that we are quiet well aware of our limiations - in defence - and that Lennon likes to repeat the same mistakes over and over again (Samaras ahead of Stokes).

I’m going for a low scoring draw tonight if Floro Flores and Barreto are not included. If they are I think Udinese will take this one without breaking sweat.

I really think Isla is a tremendous player. He may not be playing either apparently.

I’m pessimistic as fuck about this. I don’t thnk Lennon will pick the right team, nor do I think we’ll win.

If Mulgrew plays centre back and Stokes plays with Hooper and we play Forrest, Ki, Kayal and Ledley I’d be content and more hopeful.

I actually wouldn’t mind if Bangura got a start. He’s had a few substitute appearances but would like to see what he can offer from the start. In fairness, we’re not going to win this competition so it might be no harm to give him a shot. A goal would set him up nicely for upcoming league games. But I don’t want to see Samaras in the starting lineup or Stokes shunted out wide.

I’ve just seen the team listed. Hard to work out formation.

Zaluska, Matthews, Majstorovic, Mulgrew, Ledley, Wanyama, Kayal, Forrest, Ki, Bangura & Hooper.

Subs: Forster, M Wilson, Loovens, McCourt, Samaras, F Twardzik & Stokes.

It could be 4-3-3 with a tight midfield three of Wanyama, Kayal and Ki with Forrest and Bangura wide of Hooper and Ledley at left back.

Or it could be a 4-4-2 with Wanyama beside Majstorovic at the back and Mulgrew left back and Ledley on the left of midfield.

No hints as to which it is.

I’d guess with the first one.

He’s switched keepers too. Wasn’t hugely keen on Forster last season but his lack of command of the box has been alarming since his return.

I’m guessing it’s a 4-3-3 type thing as well but hard to know.

Couple of surprises anyway, the keeper one is strange. Happy if Mulgrew plays at centre back but wouldn’t have moved Ledley though that’s not the end of the world.

Hope Bangura does well but Stokes has a reputation of not cutting it in the big games based on the fact he isn’t considered for selection in them.

Seems to be Ki playing narrow on the left with two upfront, Wanyama in midfield with Kayal, Ledley left back and Maj and Mulgrew the centre backs.