I wouldn't bet on Celtic earning a DRAW at Dens because they look a team trying to get away with one – Hugh Keevins

I won't be rushing to put the grandchildren’s inheritance on Celtic winning, or even getting a draw, against Dundee this afternoon.

In order to follow the official guidelines about gambling responsibly, how would it be right to take a punt on a defence that couldn’t keep pigeons out of a loft? Two clean sheets in their last 10 matches? A Scottish Cup display against Aberdeen last weekend that was a masterclass in profligacy at the back? A season-long habit of losing late goals when they used to be heralded as the side who won matches at the death?

Celtic might be preparing to secure the title by now if they hadn’t, through Yang Hyun-jun, shown defensive ineptitude on a destructive level when they had a 3-2 lead over Rangers in time added on at Ibrox three weeks ago. The general impression given is that Celtic look like a side trying to get away with one while attempting to become Premiership champions for a third time in a row.

They don’t look like one with an implicit belief in their qualifications for deserving to take the ultimate prize. Brendan Rodgers is the victim of a potentially ruinous recruitment policy that brought in a series of multi-million pound signings like Gustaf Lagerbielke, Maik Nawrocki and Yuki Kobayashi, along with a spectacularly ill-fitting loanee in Nat Phillips.

The latter has gone back to Liverpool. The Japanese has vanished without trace. And the two who cost over £7million can’t be trusted, under any circumstances, to start matches.

Even during the course of a season when their best defender Cameron Carter-Vickers has been able to play only 12 games from start to finish because of recurring injury problems. It is a grotesque example of flawed judgment on the part of a recruitment department now broken up by resignations and waiting to be reconstructed. But the championship doesn’t go into a state of suspended animation while the repair work is done.

Any slip-ups at Dundee today could prove to be calamitous in the title race. And, once into the post-split phase, insecurity will be detected and severely punished.

Celtic’s emerging source of inspiration regarding the avoidance of disaster is Matt O’Riley, the outstanding player at the club since the start of the season. O’Riley has scored the same number of league goals – 13 – as Rangers’ Cyriel Dessers and been credited with assists for 11 others.

He is also fully fit, unlike Callum McGregor. The club captain is now used sparingly as some sort of reassurance all is well, even though he is patently unable to do what separates him from all others when he’s unhampered by mishap.

But O’Riley is the one who can be relied upon in the big moments. The penalty he scored in the frenzied atmosphere of the Old Firm game at the start of the month.

The composure shown while putting Celtic ahead in extra-time against Aberdeen in the cup semi-final. The calm execution of the penalty in sudden death after shoddy defending by his team-mates had created that situation.

Dependability is now the key to the avoidance of Celtic sabotaging their own progress towards the title. Which means Yang’s unsuitability for the game at this level should also be recognised and another tried-and-tested competitor introduced in his place.

James Forrest had so many grounds for complaint at Hampden a week ago that he could have changed his name to Nottingham Forest. Yang being preferred to the player who manager Rodgers describes as the best winger at Celtic was unfathomable.

When Forrest finally got on, he changed the complexion of the game with a fine goal, only for the sub to be subbed so that Nawrocki could help a dismayed defence see out extra-time. Except he couldn’t – and the tie went to a penalty shoot-out because of a defence suffering from what looks like incurable indecision.

If that condition surfaces again today Forest and O’Riley will need to do more right than the defence does wrong in order to get a positive result.