Celtic manager Neil Lennon confirmed that James Forrest will not be available for tonight’s match at Kilmarnock, and his absence could force the Hoops boss to break with convention in selecting his starting line-up.
As noted by the club’s official website celticfc.net, the 28-year-old winger has been ruled out of tonight’s Rugby Park clash, having picked up a knock prior to last weekend’s Scottish Cup match against Partick Thistle (as per @CelticFC on Twitter).
Lennon added that Nir Bitton will also miss the Kilmarnock game after being forced off in Saturday’s cup tie, although Kristoffer Ajer and Mikey Johnston are both available after they trained with the squad yesterday. [via celticfc.net]
Forrest’s injury not only deprives Celtic of their third highest scorer (14) and leading assists provider (16) for the season so far but could force Lennon to break with convention as regards his choice of formation. The Hoops are short of right-sided alternatives, with Marian Shved not included in the squad (as per @aboutceltic), Jonny Hayes consistently being selected on the left this season and Karamoko Dembele not being considered as he played for the reserves last night against Clyde.
Lennon has played chiefly with a 4-2-3-1 in recent months but switched to a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield against Partick Thistle on Saturday with Forrest ruled out and may do likewise tonight, particularly with left winger Ryan Christie serving a suspension. At the weekend, Celtic played with Scott Brown at the base of midfield, Olivier Ntcham and Callum McGregor ahead of him and Tom Rogic behind dual strikers (as per TransferMarkt), a setup with which Lennon may persist against Kilmarnock.
Odsonne Edouard, whose 16 goals make him the highest scorer available to the Hoops tonight, looks set to start in attack and could be partnered by either Leigh Griffiths, who found the net against Partick Thistle, or Patryk Klimala, for whom this may be an ideal opportunity for a first start for the club since his signing earlier in January.
The absences of Celtic’s top scorer (Christie) and leading assists provider (Forrest) and the likelihood of Lennon needing to deviate from his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation could make life tricky for the Hoops tonight, with Forrest’s injury perhaps highlighting the need to try and add another right winger before the transfer window closes.
However, if Celtic go with a 4-4-2 diamond again tonight, it would, in all likelihood, at least give either Griffiths or Klimala an opportunity to start in attack, something that neither would probably have had in a 4-2-3-1 setup with Edouard so prolific this season.
Celtic fans, what formation would you like to see tonight and who do you think should start in midfield and up top? Comment below with your selections!
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