Another Celtic star in Hampden fitness race

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AT FIRST we assumed that Craig Gordon was being rested as Brendan Rodgers made a few changes to his line-up for the game against Hearts at Tynecastle.

There was no sign of Craig Gordon, Leigh Griffiths, Kieran Tierney or Charly Musonda in the squad, although we did spot Tierney in the Celtic end with our supporters! If the Bournemouth scout was there maybe they are looking at getting KT down to start up an Ultras section to create some atmosphere?

Brendan explained that Leigh had been unwell, that the goalie and left back had minor injuries and that, with a straight face, that Charly had gone back to Chelsea as he had hurt his shoulder during the week. No-one thought to ask if he had a chip on it.

There had been stories circulating for a week or so about Chelsea being unhappy with Rodgers for the lack of game time Musonda has had at Celtic, the player deleted his Instagram content about Celtic then re-instated it, then him mum, who broke the story about her boy’s arrival at Celtic at the end of January, appeared to state that Musonda was ‘back for good’ at Chelsea.

Certainly his face has been tripping him and when he has been on the park, he has had one excellent assist for Callum McGregor against Zenit in the Europa League match and a crowd pleasing back heel in his debut against Hearts at Celtic Park, and nothing else at all.

He started in Celtic’s 1-0 defeat at Rugby Park for instance and the game passed him by. He hasn’t been seen again and we are unlikely to see him again. It will be interesting to see how Chelsea deal with the player who has been so highly regarded but should really be kicking on with his career by playing first team football and impressing.

Keep the money, put it towards signing Paddy.

Another one of of our missing stars from Tynecastle, Craig Gordon, apparently had a minor injury to his knee that, with the Cup Final in mind, meant that the Celtic manager was taking no chances and was happy enough to play ‘Mr Reliable’ Scott Bain – who signed a four year old contract with Celtic yesterday – against Hearts.

Bain kept his place against Kilmarnock – his kicking in that game was the best we’ve seen from a Celtic goalkeeper this season – and he is going to be in our goals for Sunday’s visit from Aberdeen.

Brendan spoke a little more about Craig Gordon yesterday and reading between the lines, you would now have to suspect that he is a doubt for the Scottish Cup Final a week tomorrow against Motherwell. (Postman brought our tickets yesterday! Excited! If you haven’t got one watch out for Motherwell handing back 3200 tickets today and act fast!)

“In the big games, he’s performed great for us,” said Rodgers, referring to Craig Gordon and looking towards Hampden added:

“It’s just going to be about fitness. Hopefully he’s okay but if he’s not then we have a very capable guy in Scott Bain who has come in and been great since the first day he walked through the door.”

The boss was then asked if Gordon would be fit for the Aberdeen game on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t have thought so. Our idea was to sort of close him down this week and get him back in next week.”

Rodgers will be delighted that the first piece of his summer transfer business was completed yesterday with the signing of Scott Bain on a permanent deal, and knows that he could be playing the former Dundee keeper at Hampden next week.

“Scott hasn’t let me down,” Rodgers admitted. “He’s been absolutely brilliant. It’s one that we’ll always have a look at. It depends on the fitness of Craig.

“We’ll see where he’s at. But I know whoever plays, they are both excellent keepers.”

Then there’s the Leigh Griffiths situation. He has had a troubled year with injury and illness – last week he was hospitalised with tonsillitis and he is unlikely to be fit enough to start against Aberdeen.

“He’ll be back in training before the weekend,” Brendan stated. “He lost a wee bit of weight so it’s about just getting him energised again. Hopefully he’ll be available for the weekend.

“I can’t play everyone. I’ve got 25 so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

In Brendan speak, that means he won’t play against the Dons – who need to at least match the result Rangers get at Hibs to finish second. Don’t worry two defeats for Aberdeen and Rangers will do just fine!

Looking ahead to the Scottish Cup Final, from where we stand this morning with Odsonne Edouard out barring a miracle, this is the most likely starting eleven that Brendan will pick:

Bain

Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney

Brown, Ntcham

Forrest, Rogic, McGregor

Dembele

But a week is a long time in football!

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