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Celtic predicted lineup vs Cluj: Two fitness concerns return as Lennon goes with strongest side

Neil Lennon, manger of Celtic gestures from the touch line during the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying round 1st Leg match between Celtic v Nomme Kalju FC at Celtic Park on July 24,...

Celtic need a big performance to progress to the next round.

Neil Lennon, manger of Celtic gestures from the touch line during the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying round 1st Leg match between Celtic v Nomme Kalju FC at Celtic Park on July 24,...

Celtic host Romanian champions CFR Cluj at Celtic Park on Tuesday night with a place in the play-off round of the UEFA Champions League at stake.

After drawing 1-1 in the first leg last week there's plenty of work to do, although Neil Lennon's side are in a solid position with the away goal in their pocket.

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Cluj are the only team who have not been beaten by the Hoops so far this season, proving to be both defensively robust and an attacking threat during the first 90 minutes.

On a nine-game unbeatean streak, they'll be no pushovers even if the Scottish champions have the home advantage this evening.

Lennon needs to go with his strongest eleven possible and has confirmed that the players who have featured for him so far this summer are all fully fit.

 

Goalkeeper Scott Bain should get the nod in goal despite making an error for Motherwell's first goal on Saturday. The Hoops number one has been in exceptional form since January and doesn't deserve to be replaced by Craig Gordon on the back of one failed save.

In defence, Hatem Abd Elhamed should return after missing the Motherwell match, The Daily Record report.

The new signing has looked capable in his first couple of appearances and despite Kristoffer Ajer's unexpected form on the right flank, having the Israeli international available is a boost to Lennon.

It will allow Ajer to continue his established partnership in central defence with Jozo Simunovic, who will likely return after league suspension.

The Hoops boss suggested to The Telegraph at the weekend that the duo remain his first-choice picks in defence as Christopher Jullien adjusts to life at Celtic.

On the left Boli Bolingoli is certain to start with no specialised competition available.

The central midfield three will almost certainly be Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie. That's despite Olivier Ntcham's red hot start to the season.

No-one else can perform the defensive screening role as well as Brown, while McGregor is crucial to dictating the tempo of matches and retaining possession. Ntcham has shown excellent form in a more advanced role but Christie has been even better this season, netting seven goals already.

Ryan Christie of Celtic FC in action   during the UEFA Champions League 2019

The Frenchman is an incredibly strong bench player who can come on and change the game if needed.

Mikey Johnston, having missed the Hoops last two matches with hamstring tightness, is in line to return to the left wing position that he's starting to make his own.

With James Forrest on the right flank, who scored the Hoops' away goal in Romania, Celtic have danger across the width of the pitch.

That'll all be in support of striker Odsonne Edouard, whose three goals and three assists at the start of this season suggest he's set for a massive 2019/20.

With Leigh Griffiths also on the bench, the Hoops have the firepower to pick up a positive result in front of an expectant crowd.

Can they rise to the challenge?

Your predicted lineup in full is:

GK - Scott Bain

RB - Hatem Abd Elhamed

CB - Kristoffer Ajer

CB - Jozo Simunovic

LB - Boli Bolingoli

CM - Scott Brown

CM - Callum McGregor

AM - Ryan Christie

RW - James Forrest

LW - Mikey Johnston

ST - Odsonne Edouard

Odsonne Edouard of Celtic FC in action against Paulo Vinicius of CFR Cluj  during the UEFA Champions League 2019

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