Celtic aiming to maintain fine form as league action resumes

James Forrest has been in fine form for Scotland and Celtic.
James Forrest has been in fine form for Scotland and Celtic.

The International break is over and the return to domestic football finds Celtic and James Forrest in particular in fine fettle with the winger having scored five goals in two games whilst on UEFA Nations Cup duty with Scotland.

The Europa League journey to the cold of Trondheim awaits next midweek – but meanwhile Brendan Rodgers will have his focus solely on the domestic arena and the short trip to face Hamilton Accies, a game that is the first of an extremely busy five-week period as the Parkhead boss acknowledged.

“We have a busy period. We have 11 games between now and the winter break - but the players are all full of confidence and they’ve been playing really well over recent weeks.”

Despite the heavy schedule Rodgers hinted that he would be making few changes – despite their last outing at Livingston ending goalless.

“We’ll have to look at subtle changes but there won’t be too many. We’ve seen that when we make too many changes it disrupts the flow of the team,” he said.

“That’s where our two defeats came earlier in the season - making too many changes to try and compensate for big games.”

Accies currently lie tenth in the Premiership with just ten points from 13 games, too close for comfort to the relegation zone, with their last outing ending in a heavy 0-4 reversal to Tommy Wright’s St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. The Celtic manager however expects a difficult 90 minutes against Martin Canning’s team.

“It’s always a tough game against Hamilton. Martin and his players will have been disappointed with the last three results so I’m sure the break will have come at a nice time for them.

“They’ve always been a team that we have to work very hard to overcome with very committed players and an excellent young manager who has done an incredible job with them over the last few years. We’ll expect a tough game.”

The artificial surface at the Lanarkshire ground will certainly be a factor as far as the visitors’ team selection is concerned, their last home game resulting in a 1-0 win over Livingston.

“The plastic pitch always comes into my thinking with some players - and the risk of injury - that you can’t play.”

Celtic’s injury problems are gradually clearing up with Scott Brown, Nir Bitton, Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths all back in training and potentially available for this one.