Celtic have the opportunity to put their rivals under real pressure on Saturday.
Celtic’s derby victory prior to the international break, coupled with league scheduling, gives the Hoops a massive opportunity on Saturday away to Hamilton.
Playing at lunchtime ahead of the rest of the Scottish Premiership, Celtic can go six points clear of Rangers before Steven Gerrard’s side kick a ball at home to Livingston. That’d put a fair amount of pressure on their city rivals.
A win against Accies would demonstrate further that Neil Lennon and his side are not playing around in the league this season and will be looking to march relentlessly towards a ninth league title in a row.
Just as important as winning the big derby matches is following it up and not letting their rivals claw their way back immediately.
The match against Hamilton has its own challenges. The international break means many stars did not return to training until Thursday, while there’s an upcoming match away to Rennes to consider too.
Brian Rice’s side are likely to be defensively organised and eager to try and salvage a point against the Hoops.
Lennon, with all these considerations, needs to name a strong starting eleven that can pick up another three points.
Fraser Forster seems likely to retain his place in goals, having been preferred to Craig Gordon at Ibrox.
Ahead of him things are less certain due to injuries for key players. The Scottish Sun reported this week that Jozo Simunovic, Nir Bitton and Kristoffer Ajer are all out of the encounter.
That could mean a central defensive pairing of Christopher Jullien and Hatem Abd Elhamed. In turn that would mean a first start for summer signing Moritz Bauer, who appeared off the bench against Rangers.
With so much change at the back, it might not be quite the right time to introduce another new player in Greg Taylor, so Boli Bolingoli should get the chance to continue his good recent form.
In midfield Scott Brown should be fresh after a two-week break from action and in this team is partnering Olivier Ntcham. Callum McGregor should sit this one out after playing a Scotland double header, keeping him fresh for the Rennes challenge.
Ryan Christie, who played less minutes than McGregor on international duty, can bring attacking energy to the midfield further forward.
On the right flank James Forrest should be ready to go after sitting out Scotland’s match against Belgium.
On the left, Lennon has the perfect chance to unleash Mohamed Elyounoussi. The man who Southampton signed for £16m last summer (BBC), has not played much football recently but over the international break will have had the chance to work on his fitness.
With Mikey Johnston a confirmed absentee, there’s no reason not to give the Norwegian minutes, giving fans a first glimpse of what could be an exciting addition to the Hoops attack this term.
As for the striker? It could be tempting to rest Odsonne Edouard after matches with the French U21s side, but he’ll be itching to play and increase his goal tally after a positive international break.
Your predicted lineup in full is: