As Celtic stand on the brink of an unprecedented quadruple treble tomorrow afternoon at Hampden Park, Neil Lennon has a selection headache. As his team prepare to face Championship side Hearts in the delayed Scottish Cup final from last season, all eyes are on the manager and who he will entrust to guide the Hoops to yet another milestone.
Nine days ago, Lennon threw young guns Conor Hazard, Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull into the firing line against Lille in a meaningless Europa League tie and they shone in a surprise 3-2 win. The team, including the same trio, backed that victory up a few days later with a Premiership win against Kilmarnock, their first at Celtic Park in two and a half months.
Now, with a huge game on the horizon, Lennon has intimated that he may go back to the players who got the team to the Cup final in the first place, raising speculation that the younger stars may miss out.
That begs the question, is the manager showing too much loyalty to players who over the past couple of months haven't delivered the level of performance expected at Celtic?
That is certainly a debate worth having and I've no doubt Lennon will look back and think he should have shown more faith in his fringe players long before he did.
The sweeping changes have brought a freshness and enthusiasm to a team who were treading water and lacking inspiration. The players who have entered the fray don't have the baggage of others from the recent poor run. Playing with a freedom, they have brought fresh optimism to the supporters while reinvigorating others around them.
Starting and winning could be the making of Hazard, Soro and Turnbull, setting them on their way to long and illustrious careers at Parkhead.
Usually when a manager hands a player a starting jersey it is that player's to lose and it's fair to say the incoming stars haven't put a foot wrong. They have every right to expect to be named in the team tomorrow.
They have delivered everything asked of them. Let’s be honest, it’s a quandary the manager wants to have because it means his squad is in a better place than it was only a few weeks ago.
Lennon only has to reflect back on the last couple of months and what he’s been through personally, both mentally and emotionally. It’s been a testing time for him and he has big decisions to make and he has to get them right.
Dermott Desmond, the Celtic owner, has backed him heavily in recent weeks and Lennon will be desperate to repay that faith.
That's why when he decides on his team for tomorrow, sentiment or past performances can't come into it. It has to be about the here and now.
What Lennon will be wary of is any complacency because what this recent spell in Scottish football has taught us is that shocks can happen if you're not at your best - Steven Gerrard knows only too well along with Lennon himself.
What the Celtic players have in their favour, among other things, is great memories from their recent visits to the National Stadium and a shoal of medals to back it up.
Hearts, who stand in Celtic's way, may be a Championship side but looking at their squad they are a real danger to the potentially historic achievement.
In their ranks are two Northern Ireland internationals, Liam Boyce and Michael Smith, who will look to write their own piece of history at the Edinburgh club. Along with players such as Steven Naismith and ex-Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon, the experience they possess makes them contenders to upset the odds.
They've gone under the radar a bit this week, which will suit Robbie Neilson and his players, with all the attention and pressure on Celtic. They've managed to get on with their preparation in a quiet and efficient way. Their semi-final victory over Hibs serves as a warning to Celtic that they are more than capable of producing when the heat is on. It may seem a bit strange to have a Cup final five days before Christmas but in these times, needs must.
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