The injury crisis in central defence had an interesting consequence for Celtic’s Champions League squad, announced yesterday. As things stand, we have only two fit central defenders who have played for the club, Liam Scales and Gustaf Lagerbielke. Nat Phillips is fit but has yet to make his debut.
As recently as a month ago, Liam could have expected to be at another club by now, but subsequent events, not least his performance at Ibrox, mean he was certain to be included as one of the 17 non-home-grown players in the 25-man squad.
Had Maik Nawrocki been fit, it is unlikely that Nat Phillips would be at the club, or that Liam made the cut (he would not have played at Ibrox), freeing up an extra place which would have been taken by Alexandro Bernabei.
Liam can also play left back, so our first reserve for that position missed out. Being Scottish, Scott Bain benefited as Benjamin Siegrist missed out. James Forrest, Mikey Johnston, Tony Ralston and Stephen Welsh, Greg Taylor and David Turnbull are the other Scottish-developed players in the squad. At the rate English and German clubs have picked off our teenage talent in recent years, it is no surprise the club work to keep fringe former-youth players on the books.
Clubs from small countries face many pressures, shoe-horning so much of our Champions League hopes into only 17 players raised outside our territory is one of them.