BRENDAN RODGERS is set to give new signing Vakoun Issouf Bayo his debut at Celtic Park tomorrow afternoon after the Ivory Coast striker was left frustrated at missing out on Wednesday night.
And the Celtic manager has confirmed that four players are now off the injury list and back in full training ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Cup tie against St Johnstone and then Thursday’s Europa League challenge against a very talented Valencia side.
James Forrest, who limped off holding his hamstring at McDiarmid Park after scoring the crucial opening goal in Sunday, has had his scan back and the good news is that it is clear.
At a push Forrest could feature tomorrow but is more likely to be re-introduced on Thursday night against the Spanish giants.
Odsonne Edouard was also injured in that bruising encounter against St Johnstone last weekend and was carried away on a stretcher. It looked like the young French striker would be out for quite a while but, like Forrest, he’s been given the all clear and returned to training yesterday and is in contention for Sunday.
Olivier Ntcham, who has been missing since the game at Ibrox at the end of last year due to a hamstring injury picked up on the first day in winter training in Dubai in January, is also back in training and is available for selection.
And Kieran Tierney, as we reported yesterday, has concluded his own personal training programme and has now re-joined the Celtic squad. The left-back is hopeful of being in the team for Thursday night.
There’s more good news too regarding Emilio Izaguirre, who, was the victim of that horrendous challenge from Hibs defender Darnell Johnson. The defender, on loan from Leicester City, was yesterday was offered a two match ban from the SFA Compliance Officer – an offer which the Easter Road club have rejected.
Emilio is not as seriously hurt as he first thought and should be back in the squad for Thursday night.
Hibs have been moaning about three other incidents in the midweek match – the Scott Brown tackle at the start of the second half which resulted in a booking, Jozo Simunovic’s ball winning header shortly afterwards (not even a free kick) and Oli Burke going down in the box after being tripped while running at speed. No penalty was awarded – it looked a penalty from the North Stand but the footage that was being shared on social media was less obvious. Regardless Craig Thomson didn’t give a penalty.
With Dedryck Boyata coming back after his injury lay-off on Wednesday against Hibs, and Kris Ayer having served his one match suspension for that last minute sending off against St Johnstone last Sunday, the Celtic manager’s selection options are increasing all the time.
On KT, Brendan is determined to re-introduce him at the right moment, despite the player’s obvious enthusiasm to get back on the park as soon as possible.
“Kieran has returned to the group, which is good,” Brendan said at yesterday’s media conference.
“Sunday might be a bit too close for him but at least he’s out on the pitch.
“Kieran looked good on Friday morning but it’s about general fitness now. He’s been out for quite a while so it’s about time.
“We’ll see about next week. I wouldn’t rule him in or out. We saw Dedryck Boyata come back in after one day’s training.
“It’s observation right now and we’ll see how he goes.
“James (Forrest) is back training as well, Dedryck came through well against Hibs and Kris Ajer is back.
“We are slowly getting players into the squad again.”
It was that horror tackle on Izaguirre cost Vakoun Issouf Bayo his Celtic debut. The new £2million signing was stripped and ready to come on at the next stop in play on the 80th minute against Hibs when Johnson committed that horrible foul on Celtic’s popular Honduran defender.
Brendan Rodgers had to change his plan and that meant Bayo having to sit back down and Jonny Hayes coming on instead as Emilio was the second Celt in four days to leave the pitch on a stretcher.
The Ivory Coast striker now looks set to make his debut tomorrow.
“I felt for him but Vakoun will get his time. He was excited to get on but I could only cuddle him!
“He’s training well but we had to put him through a mini pre-season because he hasn’t done much from the time he joined us.
“He’s a good boy who’s here to work. You can see from training he is a goal-scorer.
“We had to leave him out the Europa League squad but it was a difficult one.
“We could only add three changes so obviously we had to put in the other boys. But his time will come.”
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