As the Ange revolution is still to gather any steam, Celtic have a chance to get a first win of the season on Thursday as they travel to Czech Republic to face FK Jablonec in the Europa League qualifier.
Confidence of a result among the fans may be low after Saturday’s defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle, following our Champions League exit to FC Midtjylland last week. However we have added two new experienced players in Joe Hart and James McCarthy.
I expect Joe Hart to go straight into the team for the Jablonec match, McCarthy may need a few weeks of training but I’m happy with both. We obviously need reinforcements throughout the team, none more so than at goalkeeper, to get a 75 times capped England International to replace Bain and Barkas is a no brainer for me. Sure he hasn’t been at his best for a couple of years and there are similarities to when Craig Gordon joined the club, Hart has the chance to remind people of why he achieved so much down south. He adds a presence at the back that we have lacked since Fraser Forster a couple of seasons ago.
If McCarthy can get fully fit he will slot into a defensive midfield slot that Soro has found hard to replicate the form of his early Celtic career last season.
Jablonec won’t be a walk over, given our current form. They finished third in last seasons Fortuna Liga, five points behind a second placed Sparta Prague who beat us 4-1 at Celtic Park last season.
The Czech side have played two league games this season, a 1-0 opening day win over Banik at home followed up last weekend with a 3-0 defeat away to Mlada Boleslav.
Formed in 1945, Jablonec have been regular Europa League participants in recent years, however their record is not great with one group stage appearance in 2018-19, finishing bottom of a group that included Rennes, Dynamo Kyiv and Astana. Last season they were beaten in their only tie by Slovak side DAC Dunajska Streda 5-3 after extra time. They have won the Czech Cup twice, the last time in 2013.
Not the most illustrious of clubs however given we haven’t started the season well its a game that comes with some concern. However with Furuhashi had a few days to train with the squad and the likely debut of Joe Hart we may have a bit more about us than last weeks defeat by Midtjylland and Hearts.
Mick Kane hails from Glasgow. He has been hooked on Celtic since he went to his first game when he was 7. Celtic beat Hamilton 8-3 at Celtic Park on the 3rd of January 1987. His favourite player at the time, Brian McClair scored four goals.
He started going regular as a 16 year old when Celtic played at Hampden for the season, being a Southsider it meant a short train journey to get to Hampden. From then he has had a season ticket travelled around Europe for games as Celtic became the dominant force in Scottish football again. A nice change from growing up during Rangers run to 9 in a row.