What's in store for Celtic's international cohort in next six days
A Celtic curiosity will be thrown up by Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel at Hampden.
The Scottish champions have tended to be the club represented more than any other team in national selections over recent years.
However, owing to James Forrest’s stress fracture and Ryan Christie enforced self-isolatation after his close contact with Covid-19 contracting Stuart Armstrong, there are likely to be more Celtic players in the opposition ranks than in dark blue.
Only Callum McGregor is set to feature in the country’s most important game for almost 17 years, with a place on the bench the best his Celtic compatriot Greg Taylor can expect.
Set against that, the recently injury-sidelined Nir Bitton - much to Neil Lennon’s chagrin you suspect - and Batem Abd Elhamed are line to be two members of Israel’s expected back three.
Two Celtic players should also feature in the other Path C semi-final, which will provide the final obstacle to Euro 2020 for Steve Clarke’s men in the event of them emerging victorious at Hampden.
Kristoffer Ajer and Mohamed Elyounoussi are key members of the Norway side required to produce a victory in Serbia to set up a play-off final in their own environs on November 12.
Dreams of next summer’s delayed finals will fill the minds of the Republic of Ireland in Bratislava this evening. Celtic’s on-loan Brighton centre-back Shane Duffy will captain the Irish as they attempt the invidious task of overcoming Slovakia. No European nation has featured more in such encounters than Duffy’s country. They could be rewarded for a shock victory with a Path B play-off final against Northern Ireland, though their neighbours are also outside bets of progressing in Bosnia and Herzogovina. Duffy’s international exertions will not end tonight, with Sunday seeing Stephen Kenny’s men entertaining Wales in the Nations League.
The other Celtic senior international away with his country in the immediate build-up to the monumental derby against Rangers on October 17 is Vasilis Barkas. The keeper was on the bench for Greece as they lost 2-1 away to Austria in a friendly on Wednesday but has every chance of stepping into the side in their home Nations League confrontation with Moldova on 11 October.
With Odsonne Edouard out of commission after testing positive for Covid-19 on France duty, the pick of Celtic’s under-21 representatives is home based David Turnbull. Scott Gemmill’s men must beat the Czech Republic at Tynecastle on Friday to retain the best hope of making next year’s finals. A tournament that has a new format and schedule as a result of the global pandemic. It will be co-hosted by Hungary and Slovenia and, unusually, the group stages will be contested in March with the play off stages held in May/June.
Celtic forward Patrick Klimala has every chance of being there with Poland’s under-21s. in their squad for their European Championship qualifiers this week, the Poles will be away to Serbia on Friday and at home to Bulgaria four days later. As it stands, Poland are a point behind Russia in Group 5, having played a game fewer.
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