Ryan Christie is out of Saturday’s critical clash with the Rangers as he continues to self-isolate after testing positive from Stuart Armstrong. Israeli couple Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed are also missing after being diagnosed with Covid.
Concern remains over Odsonne Edouard with the striker still in France after his positive result and he is not expected to return to Glasgow before Friday.
But while Lennon is against him, he and his Celtic side are certainly not out. He may need to get creative in the pursuit of victory, but the five-cent role could prove vital in his pursuit of a positive outcome.
And if Edouard succeeds, that means he still has the choice between a formidable quartet among former PSG man Leigh Griffiths, Patryk Klimala and Albian Ajeti.
Record of sport examines key options for Lennon ahead of the monumental showdown with Steven Gerrard’s team.
Edward upstairs alone
It may seem improbable but would it really be a shock if Edouard debuts against Rangers? The club’s record signing has been far below its best this season, with Lennon hoping the closing of the transfer window will ‘calm’ his talisman valued at £ 30million. This match appears to be the perfect opportunity for the 22-year-old to ban his early-season blues if he’s medically cleared. If he starts on his own, that would likely mean Lennon has signed up for a 4-3-3, which could see Edouard asking to stay on the last defender and not float wide, which he likes to do. Some of his best games against Rangers have come on his own, where he made the most of the space behind as Connor Goldson has struggled to tame the France U21 star in the past.
Edouard and a strike partner
Edward and Griffiths were set to start the canceled visit to Ibrox in March, but a lot has changed for Celtic since the pandemic struck. The 3-5-2 was Dubai’s big discovery for Lennon with his side rioting against their outclassed Premiership opponents and seemed determined to end the Rangers’ title dream. But Griffiths has barely played since and Edward’s own issues mean it could be a long time for them to rekindle their partnership on Saturday. Klimala has many qualities but has yet to get on with Edouard. Ajeti has teamed up with the Frenchman, but would Lennon risk starting both due to fitness issues and injuries? Much to think about.
Klimala up alone
It sounds like a wild card, but it might not really be. Poland U21 would be the perfect option if Lennon takes a more pragmatic approach. The £ 3.5million arrival in January is raw and still polishes the details of leading a team like Celtic, but his courageous goal against St Johnstone has shown what it is. A player like Moi Elyounoussi could be an option as a No.10 if ex-Jagiellonia Białystok gets the nod. He loves to run behind and bring others into the game.
Conditioned meat Griffiths
The two men who came off the bench against St Johnstone could be just the ticket for Celtic against Rangers. Both are animated in and around the box and Kilmala could do the heavy lifting and keep Griffiths sharp inside the box. It is highly unlikely that the Scotland international would start on their own, but he could be considered as a couple with the Pole.
Ajeti in a quick comeback
It seems a little distant, but maybe a starting role and the aforementioned five-penny rule could make the former Basel player an outside option to win a chance. Starting a striker who only plays in the first half isn’t as fancy as it once would have been. Ajeti hobbled after scoring against Hibs with a muscle injury and continued to work his way to top form ahead of his three-week absence. But the 24-year-old’s limited time didn’t hamper him as he has already scored five Premiership goals. A place on the bench is more likely, but don’t rule it out.
What should Lennon do?
The Celtic manager could probably write a book about the first three months of this season and all the obstacles he has faced. But the 49-year-old knows a win will put them above the Rangers and the chance to take their lead to five points if they win their game in hand against Aberdeen. It sounds incredible considering the problems Parkhead faced and the Rangers’ start to the campaign. Lennon knows he has to put his team together well, but how would you do it?
Which of the five options present above is the best option for Boss Hoops as it aims to secure all three points against the Rangers. Don’t be surprised if Edouard starts.