CROCKED Celtic skipper Callum McGregor is OUT of Wednesday’s trip to Tynecastle for the Premiership encounter against Hearts and will be involved in a race against the clock for the Glasgow derby the following week.
The 28-year-old Hoops onfield leader was forced off in the 2-1 Scottish Cup win over third-tier Alloa in a brutal confrontation that threatened to become a roughhouse.
McGregor left the field just before the interval with a facial injury after being thumped by opponent Adam King as he went for a high ball.
James McCarthy came on to take his place with Yosuke Ideguchi, who was making his first start, moved into a more advanced role beside Tom Rogic.
DOWNBEAT…Ange Postecoglou can’t disguise his feelings after the 2-1 win in the roughhouse Scottish Cup confrontation at Alloa.
Reports claim the Scotland international was taken to hospital before the end of the tie that saw the Hoops through after first-half goals from Giorgos Giakoumakis and Liel Abada to set up a fifth round meeting against Raith Rovers at Parkhead next month.
McGregor was left groggy after the collision and he was the first of three Celtic players who had to be withdrawn during a towsy clash with Abada and Ideguchi also limping off, both after challenges from Muhamed Niang.
The challenge on the Japanese new Bhoy provoked a yellow card from lenient referee Don Robertson when a red would have been more appropriate. It was a reckless over-the-top studs-up assault that could have seen the Hoops player in serious trouble.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…Callum McGrgeor is out of the match against Hearts at Tynecastle in midweek.
Ange Postecoglou is awaiting reports from his medical team and is hopeful Abada and Ideguchi will be fit for the match in Edinburgh, but he confirmed McGregor had suffered a “significant” injury.
The Hoops gaffer, clearly downbeat after a ferocious coming together with inferior opponents, said: “We’ll have to wait and see. Cal’s is a significant injury. It’s a facial injury.
“I don’t know what it is, but he’s not in great shape. It’s not going to be short term, it’s significant.
“It’s been that sort of season for us. We’ve just had challenge after challenge.
“Cal’s a very important player, not just for what he contributes as a footballer, but as a person.
“I’m gutted for him more than anything else.
“I’m not a doctor so there’s a point I can’t go beyond, but it’s a significant injury. We’ve got a game on Wednesday night that we’re focused on, but Cal won’t play.”
NUMBER ONE…goalscorer Giorgos Giakoumakis is congratulated by Daizen Maeda.
With 16-goal talisman Kyogo Furuhashi already sidelined with a hamstring problem and Tom Rogic and Daizen Maeda heading off for World Cup duty with Australia and Japan, the manager is now working with a depleted squad.
The Greek-Australian, speaking to the Sunday Mail, added: “Liel and Yosuke should be okay. We’ll do what we’ve done so far and that’s just get on with it.
“We’ve had different challenges this season and got on with it – that’s credit to the players. This is just another challenge for us.
“The main thing in Cup competitions is to progress and we did that. We could have made it easier for ourselves by killing the game in the first-half.
“We created enough opportunities to make it a more comfortable victory.
NUMBER TWO…Liel Abada celebrates his brilliant winner.
“It was a difficult pitch for the way we play. We had quite a few guys getting their first significant game time for a while.
“So, with all that in mind, it was an okay performance.
“There’s some mitigating factors, so I can’t be too hard on the players. The most important thing is we are in the next round.”
The tie against the Stark’s Park outfit is due in Glasgow on the weekend of February 12/13.