OLIVER NTCHAM is standing by to get the nod from Neil Lennon to play against Rangers at Parkhead on Saturday.
Ryan Christie has been ruled out after being deemed to be in contact with Stuart Armstrong who tested positive for coronavirus while on Scotland international duty last week.
The playmaker will still be in quarantine by the time the team kick off at 12.30pm for the crucial encounter in the east end of Glasgow.
Neil Lennon has choices to see who fits in alongside skipper Scott Brown and Callum McGregor, assuming, of course, the anchorman comes through unscathed after tonight’s UEFA Nations League match against the Czech Republic at Hampden.
David Turnbull, the £3.5million arrival from Motherwell in the summer, is an option and so, too, is Aussie ace Tom Rogic who is coming back to match fitness.
However, Ntcham may be the man to get the trusted role in a match where the champions know a victory will put them back to the top of the Premiership with two points to spare and a game in hand.
The Frenchman, a £4.5million signing by Brendan Rodgers from Manchester City in the summer of 2017, knows what it is like to be a matchwinner in this fixture – he achieved the feat in September 2018 when he notched the only goal of a tense encounter midway through the second-half.
Ntcham, speaking to this week’s Celtic View, admitted: “We’d prefer fans in the stands for this game, obviously, but with or without a crowd, this game will always be exciting.
“I’m really looking forward to it and so is every player in our changing room. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to score in this game, but the most important thing is that we get the win and keep going in this way. It doesn’t matter who scores, so long as they’re on our side!
“We’ve started the season well, but there’s always room for improvement, especially at a club like Celtic. I think we could be scoring more goals, for example, but as long as we keep winning, as we have been, then that’s good for us, as well.”
Ntcham added: “Playing without fans is still strange because the Celtic fans are known for being very passionate and loud in every match, home or away.
“Even before games, when we’re driving to the park, or just before kick-off, when you’re walking down the tunnel and you don’t hear them on the other side – that’s so, so strange.
“For me, this also helps the opposition, especially at Celtic Park, because they can come to us and play with less pressure. On the pitch, our job remains the same, this is okay, but in your mind you do have to adjust. It’s a little bit different.”