Celtic set for season opener against Ross County at Parkhead

Celtic manager Ronny Deila
Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Parkhead legend John Clark will unfurl the Premiership flag prior to kick-off on Saturday afternoon as Celtic play host to Ross County in the opening League fixture of the new season.

Most minds will however be focused on the forthcoming midweek trip to Azerbaijan when Celtic will defend a narrow 1-0 lead over Qarabag in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers – a tie that may very well define the entire season for Ronny Deila’s side.

The Norwegian manager will certainly not concede that he is treating Saturday’s visit of the Dingwall side with anything other than the utmost respect – but he may wish to freshen up his side with such a crucial tie looming large on the horizon with Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest, both substitutes in midweek, likely to feature in the starting line-up.

Nadir Ciftci is unavailable due to currently serving a six-match domestic suspension.

County have proved to be stubborn opponents for Celtic over the past couple of seasons, and no-one in the East End of Glasgow will be taking this fixture for granted, but if there is one consolation in all of this for Deila it is surely that their closest League challengers from season 2014-15, namely Aberdeen, have endured an even more draining European sojourn to Kazakhstan ahead of a testing visit to Tannadice on Sunday to face Dundee United in their own opening Premiership fixture.

Celtic will in all likelihood face a similar solid defensive set-up in this opening League encounter to that they experienced on Wednesday evening.

But with the width of both Forrest and Gary Mackay-Stevens available the home support will be looking for nothing less than all three points even if most associated with the club will regard the coming midweek trip to Azerbaijan as by far the more important.