SEAD HAKSABANOVIC was the Celtic matchwinner the last time Ross County featured at Parkhead in November last year.
This time around, there was no sign of the Montenegro international winger as the champions claimed an opening-day 4-2 triumph.
Haksabanovic, who arrived in a cut-price £1.8million switch from Rubin Kazan in August last year, wasn’t even in Brendan Rodgers’ matchday squad with Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda starting on the flanks.
The lively Isreali was substituted by South Korean new Bhoy Yang Hyun-jun in the 79th minute.
THE WINNER…Sead Haksabanovic slides the ball wide of Ross Laidlaw for the points-clincher in the 2-1 victory over Ross County at Parkhead on November 12 2022.
HAIL THE HERO…Sead Haksabanovic acknowledges the Celtic fans.
Haksabanovic was also notable by his absence on the pitch on Tuesday night when the first-team squad – all 23 of them – gathered before the kick-off for James Forrest’s testimonial match against Athletic Bilbao.
It’s a vastly different situation from last season when the 24-year-old Sweden-born forward rescued three points against the Highlanders on a day of baffling decisions fom referee David Munro and his VAR assistant Euan Anderson which included the gift of a penalty-kick to the visitors five minutes after the interval.
The ball clearly accidentally struck Matt O’Riley on the arm, but it was deemed a spot-kick and David Cancola put the Highlanders into an undeserved lead.
ON THE RUN…Sead Haksabanovic leaves Connor Goldson and Ben Davies trailing as he races in on goal during Celtic’s 2-1 League Cup Final triumph in February.
David Turnbull, two-goal hero of the weekend, hit the leveller before Haksabanovic struck with a sublime solo winner in the 68th minute which pushed the team nine points clear in the title race on a day their nearest challengers from Ibrox drew 1-1 with St Mirren in Paisley.
It was one of seven strikes from the player who also figured in the 2-1 League Cup Final triumph over Michael Beale’s Govan outfit in February and the 3-1 Scottish Cup showpiece victory over Inverness Caley Thistle on June 3.
With no reports of an injury to Haksabanovic, the no-shows are a bit mystifying for a touchline ace who was aiming to make a massive contribution in his second season at the treble winners.