Predicted Celtic line-ups: Ange Postecoglou faces James Forrest or Liel Abada conundrum

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James Forrest, Ange Postecoglou and Liel Abada
James Forrest, Ange Postecoglou and Liel Abada

AFTER a hard-fought victory over Hearts at Tynecastle, Ange Postecoglou leads his men back to home territory for the visit of Dundee United.

Tam Courts' Tangerines snapped a seven-game Premiership winless streak by beating Ross County at Tannadice on Wednesday and earned a point on their last visit to Parkhead in September.

The Celtic manager is still without crucial players but the performances of new arrivals such as Reo Hatate and Matt O'Riley give him some cause for genuine optimism while there are calls for Liel Abada's reinstatement after a bench role against the Jambos.

Elsewhere, could there be an appearance for Christopher Jullien after over a year out injured?

Our writers make their predictions...

Tony Haggerty

I'm going to stick by the team that I felt Ange Postecoglou should have started against Hearts.

The tried and tested back four will remain in situ but I fully expect Christopher Jullien to feature from the bench at some stage in this one.

Postecoglou will be delighted that Reo Hatate and Matt O'Riley have hit the ground running. The Japanese produced a goal of stunning quality in Edinburgh on Wednesday while the new £1.5million signing from MK Dons came through his debut unscathed with a man of the match award and a vital assist. That all bodes well.

Giorgos Giakoumakis produced the goods and scored what proved to be the winner. It was real striker's goal from the Greek, who showed he had a predatory instinct when required. He now looks as though has the bit between the teeth and is hungry for more goals.

READ MORE: Are Hatate and Giakoumakis set to make themselves the new Burley and Lambert? The shades of 1998 seem unavoidable - Tony Haggerty

Jota was outstanding against Hearts at Tynecastle for the 62 minutes that he played and I fully expect him and Liel Abada to get the nod to play either side of Giakoumakis.

Abada will come in at the expense of James Forrest who showed signs of ring-rustiness in the capital. The Israeli would have had every right to feel aggrieved at being shunted from the starting line-up after his superb strike against Alloa in the Scottish Cup.

Dundee United will be no pushovers, though, and Celtic will be mindful that Tam Courts plundered a point at Celtic Park back in September when both sides fought out a 1-1 draw in Paradise.

Tony's team: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Bitton, Hatate, O'Riley; Abada, Giakoumakis, Jota

Sean Martin

Like Tony, I'm sticking with the team I felt Ange Postecoglou should start with against Hearts - which is the one he actually did pick.

That means James Forrest retaining his starting spot. While I can absolutely understand the calls for Liel Abada to return to the fold - and both his underlying and actual numbers are worthy of it - the only way Forrest is going to raise his game to his usual level is by playing.

To put it bluntly - I'd much rather Postecoglou have to choose between them for who partners Jota on the wings than have his hand forced with no choice at all.

WATCH: How would you rate Matt O'Riley's debut? - video debate

Elsewhere, Anthony Ralston not getting on at all against Hearts was a bit of a surprise and while Josip Juranovic did not enjoy his best game at Tynecastle he probably isn't in danger of dropping out.

Ralston, though, could easily make a difference off the bench and the exhausting nature of their Tynecastle exploits points to substitutes playing an important role in this one in general.

Nir Bitton led the side ably in Gorgie and will likely do so again for the visit of the Terrors, with Reo Hatate and Matt O'Riley in the middle with him and James McCarthy able to come on for one of them to help see the game out if it all goes to plan.

Sean's team: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Bitton, Hatate, O'Riley; Forrest, Giakoumakis, Jota

Alison McConnell

It is unlikely that there will be too many, if any, changes to Ange Postecoglou’s side.

With a big three points claimed from Tynecastle, it is imperative that Celtic keep up the pressure on Rangers with a win over the Tannadice side before the midweek derby meeting.

There was an impressive debut for Matt O’Riley on Wednesday night with the midfielder set to keep his place. The only question mark may be over the two full-back positions and whether or not Anthony Ralston is back in the mix for this one.

READ MORE: Celtic's resilience is to be applauded... but they must find a way to finish teams off earlier - Alison McConnell

Giorgos Giakoumakis has two goals from his last two games and looks certain to play through the middle with James Forrest and Jota supporting on either side. Jota showed flashes of his ability against Hearts but will want to get 90 minutes under his belt to ensure that he is as close to full match sharpness as possible ahead of Wednesday’s game against Rangers.

Crucially, though, Celtic will know that they can ill afford to be distracted by that one. Three points are vital against a United side who ended a wretched run of six consecutive league defeats with a win over Ross County on Wednesday night, a victory that was every bit as significant for the Tannadice side as Celtic’s was against Hearts.

Alison's team: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Bitton, Hatate, O’Riley; Forrest, Giakoumakis, Jota

  • Celtic v Dundee United kicks off at 3pm on Saturday January 29. The match is live on Celtic TV. Be sure to check The Celtic Way afterwards for detailed man-by-man ratings and reaction

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