CELTIC warrior Cameron Carter-Vickers is ready to walk an eight-game tightrope as the champions zero in on a glorious treble.
The rugged centre-back was missing from the squad for the 4-1 win at Kilmarnock at the weekend and there have been subsequent reports he may have to undergo surgery on a knee problem, as CQN stated yesterday.
Carter-Vickers is poised to play through the pain barrier, but the Hoops may be forced to rethink their strategy for the 25-year-old USA World Cup defender.
HAMPDEN HURRAHS…Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrates his second successive League Cup triumph with fellow-Celtic defenders Alistair Johnston, Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor.
Ange Postecoglou, who rates the player as the best in the league in his position, will not take risks with his £6million recruit from Spurs in the summer following his original impressive season-long loan stint.
The Parkhead men have already successfully defended the League Cup following the 2-1 derby victory at Hampden in February and are currently 12 points ahead in the league with Motherwell scheduled for Parkhead on Saturday before the split when the remaining five games will be determined.
Postecoglou is also eager to get his hands on the one that got away during his debut crusade – the Scottish Cup.
The Greek-Australian’s focus will be trained on the semi-final of the competition against Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit a week on Sunday as soon as the final whistle brings a halt to the action against the Fir Park outfit.
SHOVE OFF…Cameron Carter-Vickers brushes away Alfredo Morelos on Celtic’s march to League Cup success at Hampden in February.
The grand finale is due at the national stadium on Saturday June 3 and would be a fitting final curtain on a second inspirational campaign since his arrival two years earlier.
Yuki Kobayashi slotted in superbly alongside Carl Starfelt in the team’s central rearguard against Killie and the former J-League performer, as his beaming manager admitted, “hardly put a foot wrong”.
But there is no argument that Carter-Vickers is Postecoglou’s first pick for the defensive anchorman role and former Celtic star Jackie McNamara is another admirer of the Southend-born pivot.
He said: “Cameron Carter-Vickers is strong and has a lot of attributes. He’s been a terrific signing. Yeah, he’s up there with some of the best – although he’s not quite the same kind of player as Bobo!
“I played with some cracking centre-backs over the years – Johan Mjallby, Mark Rieper and so on. Carter-Vickers has definitely been one who has been an excellent signing. He’s very steady and consistent.
“He can definitely play, as well. And with the way Ange Postecoglou sets his team up, he wants everybody to be able to play, including the goalie. Carter-Vickers has been a great addition.”
HEAVEN IN GOVAN…Cameron Carter-Vickers races away in triumph after scoring the winning goal in the Premiership tussle at Ibrox in April last year. Carl Starfelt is about to join in the celebrations.
Ex-club stalwart McNamara, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “When it comes to the Player of the Year, I think there’s been a number of players in top form, including Kyogo Furuhashi with his goals.
“But Cameron Carter-Vickers, for me, has been immense. A lot of what he does maybe goes unnoticed because Celtic are always on the attack, but when the full-backs are forward, there’s more onus on the centre-backs to defend properly.
“Reo Hatate has also been immense, you see him getting better every week, as well. Aaron Mooy has also been really good in midfield. There are certainly a few candidates.”
A fitting conclusion to Carter-Vickers’ outstanding term would be the razzmatazz of a Scottish Cup Final victory at a sun-kissed Hampden stadium in June.
We can only hope fortune favours the brave.