Celtic team v Ross County - is this how Ange Postecoglou should fill forward line at Dingwall without array of attackers?

The likelihood that injuries will strip Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou of no fewer than six striking options for the Highland jaunt to face Ross County should see the Australian prepared to get imaginative in his team selection.

Celtic’s Liel Abada nets with a header in the 6-0 win over St Mirren early in the season and the Israeli's aerial ability suggests he could operate as a central forward with Ange Postecoglou shorn of all three of his senior striker options through injury.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic’s Liel Abada nets with a header in the 6-0 win over St Mirren early in the season and the Israeli's aerial ability suggests he could operate as a central forward with Ange Postecoglou shorn of all three of his senior striker options through injury. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Gaps in the final third for Celtic might appear to take on chasm proportions if, as expected, James Forrest and Mikey Johnston join Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, Albian Ajeti and Giorgos Giakoumakis on the sidelines - the Scottish wingers both forced off with fitness concerns during the 1-0 win over Motherwell on Sunday. The absence of a recognised centre-forward for that encounter led to the Celtic manager rotating midfield attackers David Turnbull and Tom Rogic as false no.9s. Postecoglou’s men found a way to win with this approach - Rogic producing a stonking finish - but neither man really occupied advanced positions often enough to avoid the impression forming that the team shape wasn’t quite right.

The need for a more orthodox striker seemed apparent and Liel Abada could be deployed as that. The 20-year-old is the only player to feature regularly in an advanced role this season Postecoglou has available to him for the Dingwall contest. Abada may have been berthed wide on the right, but his eight-goal return - bettered only by Furuhashi, Turnbull and Jota - is evidence he can possess a striker’s instinct in the box. And notably, the Israeli has proved himself capable aerially, three of his goals the product of headers.

An indication as to who Postecoglou could install in the wide right role Abada would be vacating was offered in the closing stages of the Motherwell victory. As Anthony Ralston was subbed on at right-back following a short spell out injured, Josip Juranovic was pushed up on that flank. His pace and crossing ability make the Croatian a decent shout to fill in as an auxiliary right winger, then.

On the opposite flank, Adam Montgomery could be a sound pick. The youngster may have been utilised principally at left-back this season but has featured as a left-sided attacker on several occasions; doing so as recently as the 3-2 win over Real Betis last Thursday. Quick and direct, he graduated through the youth ranks as a winger before being dropped back by under-18s coach Darren O’Dea 18 months ago. Postecoglou may not be spoiled for choice in constructing a forward line, but he still retains serviceable options.

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