Celtic return home this weekend, as they face St Mirren in Glasgow on Saturday afternoon.

In the final game before the Scottish Premiership split for both sides, Brendan Rodgers’ team will be hoping to get back to winning ways after that thrilling 3-3 draw with rivals Rangers just six days prior. They face a St Mirren side fifth in the table, who have clinched their spot in the top half of the table under Stephen Robinson this campaign.

Celtic have a perfect record over their Paisley opponents in games this season, winning all three of their meetings in all competitions so far this campaign. It took a late goal from striker Oh Hyeon-gyu to separate the two teams back in November, whilst it was a far more comfortable 2-0 affair the last time the pair met in the Scottish Cup in February.

If Celtic can win this game, they go four points clear of Rangers in the Premiership, with the Ibrox side having two games in hand to claw back the deficit. With all of that being said, who will Rodgers elect to start versus Robinson’s side on Saturday afternoon? The Celtic Way’s Ryan McGinlay and Tony Haggerty have their say…

Ryan McGinlay

Not to sound like a broken record, but this game – like every game now – is a big one.

Celtic have the chance to apply just a little bit more pressure on Rangers, thanks to the pitch fiasco at Dens Park causing them to fail to play out their game in hand. At this stage, you would much rather have points on the board than games still to complete, so the advantage is with Celtic here. They can only maintain that advantage by winning the games in front of them, so that is why Rodgers will name an extremely strong team to start off this game.

The defence picks itself, as Joe Hart will remain in goals. Potentially a late contender for player of the season, the veteran will be hoping to win two more trophies at the club that gave him the chance to have this swansong in his career. The full-backs will remain unchanged, as Greg Taylor and Alistair Johnston will play on the left and right flanks respectively. This is a game where they will be defending less, so it is up to the pair to make sure that they are adding to the attack when possible, as well as remaining solid when required at the back. Here comes my first big call, as Maik Nawrocki will partner Cameron Carter-Vickers in the centre-back position in place of Liam Scales. Now is the time to make this change, as Rodgers needs to work out if the Poland defender is going to be a first-pick in the years to come. We know what Scales offers, so let’s see Nawrocki from now until the end of the season.

In the midfield, there are decisions to make, though some are more straightforward than others. Captain Callum McGregor is not ready to start, so his place will remain on the bench as his usual spot will be occupied by Tomoki Iwata. A steady performer over the past month or so, Iwata deserves all the praise coming his way, which will mean another start for the Japan holding midfielder. The toss-up between Paulo Bernardo and Reo Hatate is a real one, considering the two goal contributions the former has managed in as many games for the club. Despite this, Hatate will get the nod, as he is simply too dynamic and talented to be sat on the bench. Bernardo’s time will come, but his doppelganger Matt O’Riley will pick up the final midfield spot for the champions. Two goals in two games for the Denmark international, he will be hoping for three in three – at least – after this one.

Here comes hot take two, as Luis Palma will immediately make his way back into the starting line-up following his injury. Daizen Maeda missed training on Thursday, so this will be the perfect opportunity for the Honduras regular to get some game-time. Despite his sub-par 2024, he is capable of the extraordinary, so do not be surprised if he bursts back onto the scene on Saturday. Nicolas Kuhn will keep his place on the right despite a mixed Ibrox experience on the whole, whilst Rodgers will keep faith in Kyogo Furuhashi and start him up front.

Celtic to win comfortably and put the pressure firmly on Rangers’ shoulders to respond on Sunday.

Ryan’s team: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Nawrocki, Taylor; Iwata, Hatate, O’Riley; Kuhn, Kyogo, Palma

Tony Haggerty

Celtic have to accentuate the positives from last weekend's 3-3 draw with Rangers at Ibrox as they return to base camp for the latest instalment of the Scottish Premiership season.

With six games to go in the title race, Rodgers' men know that if they can reel off half a dozen wins, they will reach the coveted chequered flag. That quest starts against St Mirren in Glasgow's east end. Rodgers watched his side completely outplay Rangers in the opening 45 in Govan. The Northern Irishman will be hoping that his team can replicate that kind of form against his compatriot Steve Robinson's Buddies.

It is a massive chance for Celtic to apply pressure at a critical juncture of the campaign. Rodgers and his team know that they have to take it. In between the sticks will be the dependable Hart. He will be ably assisted by a familiar back-four that  Johnston and Taylor at right and left-back respectively with Carter-Vickers and Nawrocki occupying the central defensive berths because of Scales being out. The Pole will come in from the cold and get his chance to see if he can cement a yellow jersey for the six-game title home stretch.

The midfield could be a potential quandary for Rodgers, but with skipper McGregor still struggling to prove his full fitness, he will opt for the same midfield trio that started against Rangers in Govan last weekend. Hatate looks to be rediscovering his form and alongside fellow countryman Iwata and Danish international O'Riley, the trio gave something of a midfield masterclass as they manoeuvred themselves into a 2-0 half-time lead over the Light Blues.  That midfield triumvirate will be charged with the task of asking the same questions of St Mirren and no doubt they will believe that they can achieve a similar level of success in front of a full-house Parkhead crowd. Despite making a telling contribution from the bench in Glasgow's southside Portuguese under-21 international midfielder Paulo Bernardo will find himself on the substitutes list once again.

The biggest dilemma facing Rodgers will be who plays in attack with Maeda being ruled out injured. Does that mean a starting berth for forgotten Honduran winger Luis Palma? Not in this starting XI it doesn't. Palma who is on his way back from injury will need to be content with a supporting role from the bench. Therefore Rodgers may well turn to the evergreen and experienced Forrest to perform a service for him on the right wing whilst switching Kuhn to the left flank. Kyogo as ever will spearhead the attack despite drawing a blank in Govan and being upstaged by strike partner Idah.

Tony's team: Hart, Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Nawrocki, Taylor, Iwata, Hatate, O'Riley; Forrest, Kyogo, Kuhn.