Celtic v Rangers late team news and starting XIs as visitors make two huge calls and Rodgers eyes front three change

The big selection calls and probable line-ups ahead of massive Old Firm clash

The final Celtic v Rangers Old Firm match of the Premiership season takes place this lunchtime at 12.30pm – with the potential for defining implications on the title race.

Celtic lead Rangers by three points and have a superior goal difference by five. With just two rounds of fixtures remaining after this weekend in the league calendar, a win for Brendan Rodgers’ men will allow them to put one hand on the trophy. Conversely, a draw or a Rangers win will keep the battle for the championship crown very much alive going into the last week of the season.

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Celtic are the favourites to win at Parkhead. They have an exemplary record at home, the match will be played without away fans and they are in better form than Rangers. Rodgers also has the luxury of a full squad to call upon, with only one major selection dilemma for the Northern Irishman to ponder.

Rangers' James Tavernier and Celtic's Daizen Maeda will do battle once again.Rangers' James Tavernier and Celtic's Daizen Maeda will do battle once again.
Rangers' James Tavernier and Celtic's Daizen Maeda will do battle once again.

Joe Hart will take his place in goal, while the back four is set to be comprised of Alistair Johnston, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Liam Scales and Greg Taylor. Now all fully fit, captain Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley are likely to patrol the midfield, meaning the biggest selection quandary comes in attack. Striker Kyogo Furuhashi, who has an excellent record against Rangers, scored twice last time out against Hearts and is expected to lead the line, while on the flanks, the in-form veteran winger James Forrest should keep his place, with Daizen Maeda restored to the starting XI. The Japanese has caused Rangers serious issues in previous encounters and scored the opening goal at Ibrox last month. That would result in Nicolas Kuhn dropping to the bench.

It is anticipated that Maeda will start wide-left, where Forrest has been playing recently, as he has been a problem for Rangers right-back James Tavernier in the past, with Forrest stationed wide on the right. However, Rodgers knows he has the option to change things up mid-match. “James is a really good player,” said Rodgers on the Maeda-Tavernier battle. “He's been a really good captain for Rangers. Daizen is an amazing athlete, he's physical, he scores goals, he's a threat, he's intense, which is obviously difficult to match. He's a real specimen physically, how he presses, how he runs, and of course in a pressing team like ours that's absolutely vital.”

Rangers have more selection concerns, with a number of players out injured. Attackers Abdallah Sima (hamstring) and Rabbi Matondo (knock) remain sidelined with Connor Goldson (knee), Danilo (knee) and Oscar Cortes (muscle) out for the rest of the season. Defender Leon Balogun will be assessed after picking up an injury last week against Kilmarnock but is unlikely to make it, while midfielder Ryan Jack is fit again but will not be considered. Manager Philippe Clement has limited options.

Jack Butland will start in goal and Tavernier will play at right-back. With Goldson and Balogun injured, John Souttar and Ben Davies are set to pair up in central defence. Clement has a big call to make at left-back and is expected to plump for Ridvan Yilmaz over Borna Barisic in that area. Midfield also poses a conundrum. John Lundstram and Mohamed Diomande will play but the third midfield spot is up for grabs. Todd Cantwell offers a creative threat and had a battle with McGregor in the last derby, but Tom Lawrence could also start in that position, especially with his long-range shooting aptitude. In attack, options are limited. Cyriel Dessers is expected to lead the line, with Fabio Silva on the left. Dujon Sterling could play wide right, with Scott Wright also an option.

Predicted Celtic team: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, Hatate, McGregor; Forrest, Furuhashi, Maeda.

Predicted Rangers team: Butland; Tavernier, Souttar, Davies, Yilmaz; Lundstram, Diomande, Lawrence; Sterling, Dessers, Silva.



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