Celtic have had a wretched start to the season and it won’t get any easier when they face their next competitive fixture on Thursday evening.

The Hoops have already been dumped out of Europe’s premier competition but now Ange Postecoglou has a second bite of the cherry as they enter Europa League qualifying.

On the chalkboard

One of the biggest problems for Celtic in the early stages of this campaign, and indeed over the last 12 months, has been their defence.

They let in 16 more goals than Rangers in the league last term and conceded a whopping 19 times in the Europa League group stage.

Continental action hasn’t been kind to the Bhoys in recent years as they were completely embarrassed in this competition last season.

That came after another incredibly disappointing Champions League exit, that time at the hands of Hungarian opposition Ferencvaros.

Should Bitton start tonight?

No chance!

No chance!

Yes please!

Yes please!

Tonight, they’ve headed to the Czech Republic where they’ll face Jablonec in the first leg of the third round of qualifying, bolstered by the addition of Joe Hart who could make his debut.

One man who should be nowhere near the starting XI is Nir Bitton. Described as a “walking joke” by Bhoys Analytics, he continues to let his teammates down.

The Israeli was a liability at times last season and has begun the new campaign in abject form. He was shown a red card against Midtjylland a few weeks ago and was caught out against Hearts last weekend.

John Souttar beat Bitton to the ball in the air which led to the Edinburgh side’s winner late in the clash.

The solution

Carl Starfelt took to the field against Hearts to earn his debut but the Swede won’t have been left enthralled by Celtic’s ability to defend.

He looks a composed ball-playing centre-half but he must be paired with Stephen Welsh when the Hoops kick off on Thursday evening.

It was particularly strange that the 21-year-old wasn’t trusted at Tynecastle last weekend when he’d started both of their Champions League qualifying matches.

Guess the shirt numbers from Celtic’s famous 2002/03 UEFA Cup side. Let’s start with Mohammed Sylla…

Welsh proved last season just how promising he is, establishing a fine partnership with Kristoffer Ajer at the back.

He is a young defender but looks wise beyond his years and hasn’t made a howler to the degree of Bitton just yet.

The Scot is far more reliable than their £14k-per-week disaster and simply has to play against Jablonec.

AND in other news, Celtic could sign their new Henrik Larsson in “outstanding” 24-cap “animal”…

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