ANGE POSTECOGLOU admits progression in the Premiership is now the focus after the Europa League adventure ended in eight minutes of x-certificate defending in the BayArena.
The Celtic boss now has to pick up his players for the meeting of Scott Brown and his Aberdeen team-mates at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon.
Tom Rogic wasn’t fit for selection in Leverkusen and Nir Bitton has occupied the anchorman role with Callum McGregor moving one forward.
However, the versatile Israeli international was forced to come off with an injury in the 76th minute with the Hoops leading 2-1. James McCarthy took his place as the Germans staged a fightback to win 3-2 with the visitors’ defence culpable on both occasions for the late goals that obliterated hopes of a winner-takes-all clash with Real Betis in Glasgow a week on Thursday.
INFLUENTIAL…Nir Bitton was playing a pivotal role against Bayer Leverkusen until he was forced to go off 14 minutes from time.
The Aussie playmaker has a chance of playing against the Dons, but Bitton, so impressive against the Bundesliga outfit before coming off, remains a doubt.
Postecoglou said: “I was a bit disappointed to see Nir come off and in terms of how he is going to be I’m not really sure.
“We will assess him, but he has been pretty influential for us and did well for the second goal in Germany to help set it up.
“It was disappointing to have to take him off because I just felt we needed him in there just to help us control that middle of the park.
“But I thought James McCarthy did okay when he came on. I was going to put him on anyway and I had to when we took Nir off.”
Asked if McCarthy is getting there following a slow start to his Hoops career, the Greek-Australian gaffer replied: “I think so. There have been those signs and he is ready for an opportunity now.
“That may come tomorrow or it may come next week. He is ready for that.”
SIDELINED…Giorgos Giakoumakis will miss the visit of Aberdeen.
Postecoglou is hoping to get back on track in the Premiership and he told the Daily Record: “Yeah, that’s the key now. That’s a big game for us back in the league where we are on a good run and want to continue that.
“Particularly being at home at Celtic Park against Aberdeen who are a good side who have picked up some results recently.
“It’s a good challenge for us because the players put so much into Germany physically and emotionally and I am going to have to make a couple of changes just to freshen them up.
“But, absolutely, we have to be on our game.”
Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, who has claimed one goal since his £2.5million summer arrival from Dutch side VVV-Venlo, will again be missing with a knee problem.