Neil Lennon is expected to give opportunities to a number of youngsters when Celtic visit CFR Cluj for the last game of the Europa League group stage.
Celtic are already guaranteed to top their Europa League group no matter what the results are on Thursday. It is on the back of a historical European campaign that has seen four of their five games while drawing the other, which means they have taken 13 points out of a possible 15. This is even more impressive considering the other teams in their group.
Neil Lennon’s side beat out Lazio in thrilling fashion in both their games. The same Lazio side completely destroyed Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus last week in a 3-1 victory. This just shows how far they have come since their elimination from the UEFA Champions League qualification phase at the hands of CFR Cluj.
That is a loss they have already avenged in the Europa League group stage, having beaten the Romanian side 2-0 at Parkhead. And now they have a chance for revenge as a win in Romania might end up eliminating CFR Cluj from the competition if Lazio manage to win their game against Rennes.
But it will be interesting to see whether Neil Lennon names a full-strength side against Cluj in a game they have absolutely nothing to play for. Celtic have one of the busiest schedules in world football and this could very well be their last chance to rest some of their top stars with the Premiership race tighter than ever.
Thus, the Celtic boss is expected to name a number of the club’s youngsters and fringe players in the starting line up on Thursday in Romania. One such star is 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele. The winger has been at the club since 2013 and long been touted as one of the stars for the future. He made his senior debut against Hearts in May of this year.
And the club released photographs on their Twitter of the youngster training with the first team at Lennoxtown ahead of Thursday’s game. This has led to speculation that Dembele might be set for his debut on the European stage.