STEPHEN WELSH is set to partner Liam Scales in the heart of the Celtic defence in the derby encounter at Parkhead tomorrow.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, who limped off early in the second-half of the 3-0 win over Dundee on Boxing Day, is ruled out of the visit from Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side.

Welsh came on at Dens Park in a seemless change as the champions achieved the crucial victory which gives the Hoops the opportunity of going eight points clear of their nearest challengers.

DOWN AND OUT…Cameron Carter-Vickers is grounded before limping off against Dundee at Dens Park.

Carter-Vickers also missed the match at Ibrox in September when Swedish new Bhoy Gustaf Lagerbielke teamed up with Scales and the visitors kept a clean sheet with Kyogo Furuhashi volleying in the only goal of a dramatic confrontation.

The USA World Cup centre-back, who has been troubled with a persistent hamstring problem, will also miss the January 2 match against St Mirren in Paisley and will rest during the winter break before the season resumes with the home Scottish Cup Fourth Round tie against Highland outfit Buckie Thistle on Sunday January 21.

Speaking of the unavailability of Carter-Vickers, Brendan Rodgers said: “I always think it is an opportunity for someone else. Like we had in the last game with Gustaf and Liam Scales.

“For the likes of Liam, it was the making of him. It’s always a sadness when you lose a top player, but, hopefully, it’s not too long a time and he can stay clear of injury for the second part of the season.

“Stephen played against Feyenoord and played very well. I’ve really liked seeing him, I brought him with me when he was a young player first time round.

CHEERS, MATE…Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh at the switchover in Dundee on Boxing Day.

“He was only a kid then, but he has really matured. He has not played as much as he would have liked, but only because of the form of Cam and Carl Starfelt when he was here.

“But he’s always been there as a loyal support to play and I know I can trust him when I put him in. If he is the guy who gets to play, then I have got every faith he can perform.”

The Hoops gaffer also confirmed crocked double-act Reo Hatate and Liel Abada could figure at Parkhead.

Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “They have trained, Liel a little bit longer, we don’t want to rush them.

“But if they come through well today they will be in the squad tomorrow.”

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