RYAN CHRISTIE could be back ahead of schedule as Celtic prepare for five crucial months in their continued quest for silverware.

The Scotland international playmaker was taken to hospital only a few hours after the loss to Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side just before the turn of the year.

Christie was forced to some off 11 minutes from the end of a disappointing performance and there were fears he could be sidelined for a month or so.

John Kennedy, Neil Lennon’s assistant manager, offered some good news as he spoke to the media in Dubia.

The Hoops No.2 said: “He had a little setback, but he obviously had that dealt with quickly, so, hopefully, it won’t keep him out for too long.

“He will miss the bulk of the week here in Dubai, but, hopefully, once we get back, he won’t miss too many games. It will be touch and go for the first game, but it will be weeks rather than months. Hopefully, he will be okay.”

Kennedy also leapt to Christie’s defence and insisted he’ll be “astounded” if the SFA hit him with a two-game ban after the classy midfielder was served with a notice of complaint for allegedly grabbing at a sensitive area of Alfredo Morelos.

The player’s hearing will take place today, but the deputy gaffer is adamant the Highlander has no case to answer and echoed his club’s initial reaction of being astonished at the fact he’s actually been put in the dock in the first place.

CHRISTIE v KATIC…the Celtic midfielder takes on the Ibrox defender.

He added: “I find it very surprising. I would be astounded if he gets found guilty of it and they follow through with the charge.

“If that is the case, then there will be numerous cases throughout the season where somebody grabs or accidentally touches somebody.

“I have seen these situations what they are trying to accuse him of before. If you are static in the box at a corner-kick and are marking somebody and you do a fly one.

“But to be involved in the game and somebody goes by you, to accuse him of trying to grab him by the genitals is crazy. Ryan is not that type of player for a start.

“Ryan has genuinely gone in and he goes by him. What naturally happens is you try to grab something. It just so happens that it was what it was.

“You can see with the speed of the game your first reaction is sometimes to grab the first thing that goes by you. That is what happened.

“If you are static, you are standing beside somebody marking them and you make a play for that area then that is pretty obvious.

“But, again, you have to take the person into consideration here and Ryan is not that type of player at all.

“If you put it into the context of the game and what is happening at that time, somebody has gone past him. When that happens you try to grab hold of a shirt of whatever it might be, make some kind of contact to knock him off balance and just so happened to catch him there.

“At the time, nothing was made of it. Morelos didn’t make anything of it to Ryan or anybody else about him. That speaks volumes in itself.

“I will be very, very, surprised, astonished actually, if anything comes of it.”


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