BRENDAN RODGERS was full of Christmas cheer today. His side had just drawn Valencia in the Europa League and that’s certainly something to look forward to for Valentines Day at Celtic Park and seven days later in the The Mestalla stadium.
While the draw was pleasing what really warmed the hearts of the supporters was the good news that the manager delivered on the injury front, with Celtic now looking to see out December without dropping any more points.
Two lost at Motherwell and three at Hibs is more than enough damage and if we are to get 12 from 12 we’ll need all best our players fit and able to play. And that’s just what Brendan was discussing today.
First up was news on Dedryck Boyata who limped off with a hamstring injury at the Betfred Cup Final against Aberdeen at the start of the month.
“Dedryck has a good chance for the Aberdeen and Rangers games — absolutely. Thankfully, his injury was only a slight, grade-one hamstring,” Brendan revealed.
“He’s moving well outside, so we will see where he is at. He’s a big player for us. You see the solidity he gives. I like real pace in one of my centre-halves and he gives you that.
“He lets you squeeze your line and be nice and compact as a team.
“When he doesn’t play, we really miss him — but he will be back soon.”
Boyata’s return would be fantastic news for these two away games that Celtic will want to win.
Then there’s Ryan Christie, who seems to have made a remarkable recovery. He was badly missed at Easter Road and if he could get himself ready for these games that would be a major bonus.
“When Ryan was carried off, I feared the worst really,” Brendan said.
“He came out of the stadium on crutches and went straight for the MRI scan. But that came up really positive and, in fairness to him, he’s thrown the crutches away now.
“Ryan is in such great form and doesn’t want it to end. But we have to be careful with him.
“He’s been out running on the grass and we will see how he goes for the rest of the week.”
Then there’s Kieran Tierney. He was unable to play against Kilmarnock last week but was back in the side for the Europa League match against Salzburg. But his hip problem flared up again and he was missing for the game at Easter Road on Sunday – where he was also missed.
Mikael Lustig picked up a head knock against Salzburg and is still feeling the effects of it. He’ll be back shortly though.
“Mika’s scan was clear but he was still feeling dizzy.
“When it’s like that, medics are tentative. You have to go with the player.
“If he’s still feeling like that on Tuesday then he won’t play against Motherwell, but we will see where he is at come the weekend,” Brendan said.
Then there’s Tom Rogic, who looked below par on Thursday against Salzburg and was clearly suffering with his on-going knee problem.
“Tom’s injury is a management issue,” Brendan said.
“He won’t get anything done in January as he will be away to the Asian Cup with Australia.
“We have to manage it. He had an injection, which means he’d struggle for a couple of games. We are hoping he will train at the end of the week.”
And Nir Bitton took a giant step to ending his own injury nightmare today when he played for 75 minutes in the Development game against Hibs today which ended in a 2-2 draw.