For a while now we have been waiting for Moussa Dembele to recapture his form from last season, but you cannot hang around forever.

There comes a point when you have to start producing.

I maintain that he has been hindered way more by his injury problems than by any speculation that went on round about him these past six weeks or so.

There has been an inconsistency in team selection too, mainly down to injuries, which has meant that he hasn’t been able to get a proper, consistent run in the team.

But Europe was the platform where Moussa really first stated his arrival at Celtic.

There was the dramatic penalty against Astana and then there was the way he performed in the group stages last season, with the game against Manchester City immediately springing to mind.

So we know that he can do it and he knows that he can do it.

He has that capability and what he has to set his sights on between now and the end of the season is on reproducing that.

It is one thing to know that you are able to go and do it and another to actually do it.

The first-leg of the Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg would be an ideal platform for Dembele to underline what he has got.

Ideally, you would always prefer to play the first-leg of a two-pronged tie away from home but there is nothing but to get on with it when it goes the other way.

I do wonder whether the home and away element of a knockout tournament may lend itself to Celtic playing a little differently against the Russians on Thursday night.

I think we would all laud the idea of playing in a fast, attacking and aggressive way but there are also times, especially when you do not have the ball, that you make sure things are tight for your opponent, that they do not get the freedom they want, particularly in the middle of the park.

If you can close down the space that they have to work with and in actual fact, Celtic played very well like that against Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier in the season.

They lost the game 2-1 on Halloween but the way they played against the Bundesliga giants was impressive. It is that kind of form that they will wish to replicate this coming week.

It is not so much about being cautious because when you try to play that way you lose the impetus in attack, but really it is about being really tight whenever they have the ball.

The game itself seems to have come around very suddenly and it will be interesting to see if the fact that Zenit have not had any competitive football for the past few months has a bearing on their performances.

That is the situation that Celtic find themselves in every summer and you do always feel that they are a bit rusty when they kick off those early qualifiers. I know that Zenit have had friendlies and will have been well prepared with these two games against Celtic in mind, but it is always difficult to replicate match sharpness no matter what you do.

It is up to Celtic to see if they can use that to their advantage.

It is encouraging to note that Kristoffer Ajer is expected to be fit after going off last week at Rugby Park. The injury problems seem to have run right through this season and I do think they have upset the balance of the team, purely because it has been so difficult to get a settled partnership, particularly at the heat of defence.

With Dedryck Boyata out I would suspect that Jozo Simunovic will come back into the backline. You would also have to think that Jack Hendry must be in with a shout of being involved in that one too.

I haven’t seen much of the boy at Dundee but I thought he looked relatively assured on his debut and he is clearly a player who is rated very highly by Brendan Rodgers.

For me, any player who is released by Celtic as a kid and then returns to the club on the back of their performances has something about them. It suggests that he has the temperament that is required if you are to succeed at a club where there is so much competition for places.

Similarly, Charly Musonda has arrived with a big reputation too. The lad clearly needs to get some game time under his belt because he hasn’t had too much football but it will be interesting to see just how he kicks on over the coming months.

Dorus de Vries will be in too for the next wee while and you would have to say that the guy is clearly a solid professional. It is credit to him that he has maintained a high level of fitness when he has been second fiddle for so long and that is never an easy thing to do as a keeper.

For me, Gordon remains the better of the two keepers but this is a test for De Vries now to see how he fares knowing that he has a good run at it.