Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

Brendan Rodgers has a massive decision to make over who he plays at left-back against Valencia on Thursday night.

The Hoops boss spent most of January looking for a right-back before securing Jeremy Toljan on loan in the final hours of the transfer window. With that problem position solved the other side of defence has created a fresh headache.

Rodgers does have a few options in that area but none are ideal, as we discuss below…

Kieran Tierney

The obvious first choice but after two months out of action it would be a big risk to put him in against the Spanish side. Tierney would love to play but it’s doubtful if adrenaline will see him through the full 90 minutes.

Emilio Izaguirre

He’s been Tierney’s regular deputy but suffered a bad-looking ankle injury last week against Hibs. It’s been a while since he played in such a high profile match and away to Hibs and Aberdeen in December he was clearly the weakest link in defence.

Jonny Hayes

Had one of his best ever Celtic games on Sunday but it’s an incredible leap to go from St. Johnstone to Valencia. A converted winger playing at left-back would be a big risk but the Irishman is a fully fit option.

Mikael Lustig or Jeremy Toljan

Both are natural right-backs but could be asked to take one for the team by switching to the other flank. Both men are experienced at playing full-back at the highest level but neither has played at left-back this season.

Chopping and changing in the Celtic’s defence has been a constant problem throughout the season but Tierney has played in all 14 European games so far.

At this level opponents sniff out weaknesses with the Valencia management team well aware of where Celtic will be vulnerable.

The hoops have plenty of attacking options but keeping a clean sheet will be essential if they are to go into the return leg with confidence.


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Joe McHugh