ALISTAIR JOHNSTON feared he might be forced to miss Celtic’s glory run-in to the season after being crocked in the crucial 2-1 derby triumph at Parkhead at the weekend.

The Canadian World Cup right-back revealed how he suffered a swollen ankle, a bloody gash and ELEVEN stud marks on his leg following John Lundstram’s x-certificate lunge just before the interval.

Johnston was left writhing in pain as the Ibrox midfielder was dismissed after a VAR intervention following referee Willie Collum’s initial yellow card.

The defender was anxious about the possibility of being sidelined for tonight’s visit to Rugby Park to take on Kilmarnock, Saturday’s Premiership curtain call against St Mirren at Parkhead and the Scottish Cup Final against Philippe Clement’s Govan outfit at Hampden the following week.

SEEING RED…VAR reviews John Lundstram’s wayward lunge on Alistair Johnston.

Johnston said: “He said: “In the moment I was concerned, just because it was the ankle I did previously. That was the one that nearly ended my season last year when I had to get surgery.

“So, I was a bit worried, but luckily they did some tests on it and structurally it was good. It was just swollen and pretty bruised, which affected the mobility of it and my confidence in it for the rest of the match.

“I knew it was bad. My socks were ripped and I had blood everywhere so I had a feeling this one might need to go to VAR! I saw the yellow come out and, to be fair, I saw the ball 30 yards away and thought maybe he did win the ball. But he definitely won me, as well.

“I didn’t realise how bad it was until I saw the replay of it. In the moment he caught me pretty good, but it looked even worse than that in the replay.

“A gash went halfway up my leg and down the side of it. I knew it probably wasn’t a great challenge and that’s why VAR is here. You can have a look at those tackles again to really see what happened.

ON THE BALL…Alistair Johnston is command.

“When you slow it down you see that, no, he got me and I actually kicked the ball. It was the right call at the end of the day and I don’t think anybody would have any complaints about it.”

Asked if he required stitches in the wound, Johnston replied: “Thankfully not. But I do have about 11 stud marks on my leg – you can count them!”

Johnston was replaced by Anthony Ralston in the 74th minute when it became obvious his movement was hampered, but he is hoping to get the green light from Brendan Rodgers to start against Derek McInnes’ side this evening.

The energetic full-back, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Again, I feel better than I was probably expecting. But that comes down to the gaffer, we will see what he decides.

“But you want to play in these games. You do this whole marathon so that, when you get to the end, you are part of it. But no matter who plays we are all confident we can get the job done.”

A BIG HAND…Alistair Johnston is ready for a grandstand finale to the season. 

Johnston has already sampled defeat twice at the Ayrshire venue this season – 1-0 in the League Cup and 2-1 in the Premiership – but he insisted the rot will stop on this occasion and the Hoops will get at least the solitary point they require to clinch their third successive title.

He added: “There’s a great motivation for us – there’s a chance if you go there and get the result you’re going to win the league – and that’s on our minds.

“But we’ll need to come out flying and we’ll need to come out strong because they are not going to roll over.

“They are going to be up for the fight.”

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Kilmarnock v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.

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