John Hartson says goalkeeper and striker must start in semi-final cup clash against Rangers

Former Celtic striker John Hartson believes goalkeeper Scott Bain and striker Leigh Griffiths should start for the Hoops against Rangers in this week’s Scottish Cup semi-final meeting.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are the defending champions, having beaten Aberdeen in last season’s final, but have to beat fierce rivals Rangers to stand a chance of defending their trophy this time.

There are question marks over who could start the Old Firm derby with some Celtic favourites short of playing time. Craig Gordon is one of them.

He recently returned from a lengthy injury layout and started against Dundee in last Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Parkhead. He was replaced by Scott Bain in Celtic’s 2-1 win at Hamilton Academicals on Sunday and Hartson says Rodgers shouldn’t change his goalkeepers against Rangers.

He said:

“I think that Scott Bain should keep the gloves. I wouldn’t bring Craig Gordon back in for the simple reason that goalkeepers have to be active, and he has been out for a while bar the Dundee game last week.

 “Yes, Gordon has the big-game experience, and he probably is the better goalkeeper, but why drop Bain? He hasn’t done anything wrong, so I would stick with him.”

Leigh Griffiths has struggled with injury problems this season, recently recovering from calf troubles to feature in Celtic’s last three league games, all from the bench. The 27-year-old may be short of match fitness to start against Rangers given he’s not long returned from a two-month layout.

Moussa Dembele, who has scored and created 15 goals in 23 league games, has led the line in Griffiths’ place, but Hartson wants the former to start on Sunday, April 15.

He added:

“I would have Leigh Griffiths up front instead of Moussa Dembele. Griffiths is absolutely itching to start, and he will be so hungry to make his mark. He’s a huge threat in front of goal and his record is phenomenal, so that’s why I would edge towards him.

“I don’t think he’s ever let the fans down, they absolutely adore him, and he likes the big occasion. He loves playing at Hampden, he has happy memories there as a player, and invariably he comes up with the goods.”

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Crippy Cooke

Crippy can be found on Twitter (@CrippyCooke) He is a sports journalist who has written for the Independent, Bleacher Report, Huffington Post, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph among others. Crippy treats football gossip with a dash of cynicism and loves tearing apart outlandish rumours.