Celtic have confirmed their starting XI to face Hearts on Saturday afternoon, with Brendan Rodgers making three changes from the side that beat Rosenborg in Trondheim in midweek.
The Bhoys confirmed their place in the final Champions League qualifying round with a hard-fought 1-0 aggregate victory over the Norwegian side, with Astana next up in Europe for the Parkhead side.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) August 5, 2017
Celtic’s focus will turn to domestic duties on Saturday however, with the first league game of the new campaign.
With Erik Sviatchenko set for a six-week spell on the sidelines after being injured in midweek, Rodgers has brought Nir Bitton into his team to face Hearts.
Interestingly, the midfielder is preferred to central defender Kristoffer Ajer at the heart of the Hoops rearguard.
Celtic are down to their bare bones at the back and will hope that there are no further setbacks in their back four ahead of their return to European competition.
Key striker Moussa Dembele has an injured hamstring and is still on the treatment table in Glasgow, with Leigh Griffiths set to lead the line for the Bhoys against the Edinburgh-based side.
James Forrest scored the only goal of the game against Rosenborg in an advanced role, with the 26-year-old fighting for a regular berth in Rodgers’ team – he is included again, while Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes drop to the bench.
Hearts go into the game in Glasgow as considerable underdogs, with manager Ian Cathro dismissed in the week – just five days before the league campaign starting.
The notable absentee on the pitch for the Jambos is Jamie Walker, with the flying winger omitted from the matchday squad due to the continued speculation over his future.
With Rangers reportedly keen to bring the impressive attacker to Ibrox, the star’s head has seemingly been turned and he will play no role in the league clash against Celtic.
The Bhoys have a massive domestic task in replicating last season’s remarkable feat, where the Hoops went through the entire campaign unbeaten, winning a domestic treble in the process.
However, anything other than a Celtic win on Saturday would be a sizeable shock, with the home side already match-fit after their games in Europe and boasting top talent all over the pitch.
Confirmed Celtic XI: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, McGregor, Ntcham; Sinclair, Forrest, Griffiths