Celtic’s European fate was already sealed prior to their Thursday night encounter with Real Betis, but Ange Postecoglou will have been pleased by the efforts of his second string, with a number of youngsters impressing in the 3-2 win.
However, on a sour note, injuries to back-up striker Albian Ajeti and his replacement Kyogo Furuhashi leave the attack looking somewhat threadbare at present, especially ahead of a demanding fixture list over the festive period.
With Giorgos Giakoumakis working his way back after minor knee surgery, the Hoops could potentially be without a recognized centre-forward this weekend, while wingers Jota and James Forrest are also sidelined at present.
Attacking midfielder Ewan Henderson came on for Kyogo and bagged a goal against Real Betis after just 37 seconds, so the 21-year-old will be hoping it’s enough to land him another opportunity to impress.
Right-back Anthony Ralston is also absent, as well as centre-back Christopher Jullien, but Postecoglou’s defensive worries don’t compare with those faced by Graham Alexander.
The Motherwell boss only has one fit centre-back available at present, Bevis Mugabi, as Ricki Lamie was forced off last weekend against Hibernian, joining Sondre Johansen, Juhani Ojala and Darragh O’Connor on the sidelines.
Left-back Jake Carroll looks set to deputize, but while forward Kaiyne Woolery is also injured, he can call upon the league’s top scorer Tony Watt in attack.
Celtic To Win And Over 2.5 Goals
The visitors have conceded 25 goals already this season, as only three teams have conceded more, so it would be a surprise if Celtic can’t carve out some openings, even if they are reduced in numbers at present.
Liel Abada and Mikey Johnston offer potent options out wide, while against a side with limited option of their own at the back, whoever starts in the middle for Celtic should find opportunities coming their way.
The hosts certainly have momentum behind them as they’re an impressive W12-D1-L1 in all competitions since the start of October, as the sole defeat came in a narrow 3-2 loss away to Leverkusen in Europe.
They’re also unbeaten in 21 meetings with Motherwell since the start of 2016, winning 18 of these, including each of the past nine by a combined 29-5 scoreline.
There were at least three goals in seven of those past nine clashes, and Celtic will fancy themselves to continue that run here.
CELTIC TO WIN AND OVER 2.5 GOALS