CHRIS SUTTON can think of THIRTY MILLION good reasons for Celtic making a call to have three crucial Premiership games postponed.
Under SPFL rules, the Hoops can request the cancellation of matches if they have three or more players on international duty when the fixtures are due.
Ange Postecoglou will be without Tom Rogic with the rejuvenated midfielder a certainty to get the nod to be involved in Australia’s World Cup qualifiers against Vietnam on January 27 and Oman the following Tuesday, as CQN reported yesterday.
A fully-fit Kyogo Furuhashi will get the call from Japan for their ties on the same evenings against China and Saudi Arabia while there is a good chance new signings Daezen Maeda and Reo Hatate will also be involved in the squad which will be announced a week today.
ON THE RUN…Tom Rogic in action against St Johnstone in Perth in the 3-1 win on Boxing Day.
That would leave Postecoglou missing the services of up to four players for the league matches against Hearts at Tynecastle on January 26, Dundee United in Glasgow three days later and the Glasgow derby at Parkhead on Wednesday, February 2.
With at least £30million up for grabs for Champions League qualification following a tenth Premiership title triumph in 11 years, Sutton insists that leaves the Greek-Australian gaffer with little option but to request the three fixtures to be shelved and played at a later date.
The former Parkhead goal hero said: “That doesn’t mean Celtic wouldn’t be Loons not to try and call off games if rules apply. Just ask my pal Ally McCoist. Ever since I stated categorically on a Record Sport Celtic Podcast it doesn’t make sense for Postecoglou to go into huge games without key players at his disposal when rules clearly state he doesn’t have to, I’ve been getting pelters.
“Why? Celtic want their best chance to win the title. There is a guaranteed Champions League group stage place on offer for the Premiership winners and £30million to go with it. It’s just giving yourself the best chance to have success. Self-interest dominates the Scottish game and it goes all ways.
BLACK LOOKS…Kyogo Furuhashi takes a breather in the 3-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road in October.
“Spare me the rubbish about running scared of Rangers if Celtic make an application to have the February 2 derby switched. I’d hardly imagine Ally was running scared of Forfar nine years ago when he was Rangers manager and invoked the rule that says if you have three players away on international duty on the dates of a club game, you can request a postponement.
“With four away, the League One clash against the Loons was moved. I believe a statement on the Rangers website at the time even acknowledged some fans would be unhappy at the late call-off, but said the decision was taken in good faith by the football department.
“Ally did what he felt was best for his team and the same would go for Postecoglou.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Cameron Carter-Vickers, Rogic and Furuhashi are three of his very best players, right through the spine of the side.
“Why would you go three games against Hearts, Dundee United and Rangers without them due to World Cup qualifiers if you don’t have to?
“It might cause a crammed fixture list down the line, but surely it’s better having a glut of games with a full-strength team than spacing games out and playing them without key stars?
PRIZE GUY…Ange Postecoglou with the newly-won Premier Sports League Cup after the 2-1 win over Hibs in December.
“Postecoglou strikes me as a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-don’t-moan type, says he doesn’t like to make excuses and prefers to just get on with things.
“That’s very commendable. Maybe he thinks it would give an added motivation to those left in Scotland to produce the big results.
“But if it was me I’d be doing the same as Ally and trying to get the games off if those three are called for national-team duty.”
Sutton added: “That is for later. Right now it’s about Hibs for Postecoglou at Celtic Park on Monday and it’s brilliant that there will be a crowd of 60,000 to see it. It seems the decision to bring the winter break forward was a justified call, even if one or two didn’t see it that way at the time.
“Celtic’s new signings Maeda, Hatate and Ideguchi should be on show and it’s down to the current squad to hit the ground running and make a run for the title.”