ANGE POSTECOGLOU admitted “there is something looming over me” as Celtic’s injury jinx struck again last night – BEFORE the 3-0 Premier Sports League Cup win over Raith Rovers to set up a semi-final clash with holders St Johnstone.
Giorgos Giakoumakis, the £2.5million arrival on deadline day, was poised to make his first appearance against the Fifers at Parkhead, but had to call off after being injured in the warm-up.
The frontman, who was the Eredivisie’s top scorer last season with 26 goals despite his club, VVV-Venlos, being relegated, suffered a calf injury before the kick-off and was sent for a scan, as CQN reported last night.
LONE STRIKER…Albian Ajeti is on his own up front for the Hoops.
Albian Ajeti, who was withdrawn on the hour mark to make sure he was okay for the visit of Dundee United on Sunday, is now the Hoops’ only fit attack-leader with top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi still sidelined following his injury setback while playing for Japan earlier this month.
Filipe Jota, on loan from Benfica, was forced to come in from the left wing to take over the main role against the Championship side after setting Postecoglou’s men on their way with a neat opener and he played a major part in the second which was claimed by Liel Abada, his fifth for the club.
David Turnbull eased the Hoops into the last-four confrontation against the Perth outfit with a third just over a minute into the second-half.
However, the problems are piling up for Postecoglou with skipper Callum McGregor now missing for three games following a hamstring injury and Scotland international pair James Forrest and Greg Taylor are also sidelined. Long-term crock Christopher Jullian, who hasn’t played this year, is still at least a month away.
The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “I don’t know what it is, mate, I have definitely walked under a ladder. Giorgos did his calf in the warm-up, so I have just sent him off to do a scan now.
“He has picked up an injury, unfortunately. So we’ll just wait and see.
“I haven’t spoken to him and I only found out about it at half-time when I was looking to make some changes.
CELTIC VIEWS…Ange Postecoglou faces challenges. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
“He’ll be disappointed and frustrated because he’s really keen to get his career going
“But we didn’t sign him for two months. We signed him for a significant amount of time and we want him to have a good career here.
“It’s just one of those things. It’s been really unsettled. We’ve tried to be careful with him and a few others, but such is our predicament at the moment.
“He’s just got to be positive.”
Postecoglou continued: “There’s something looming over me at the moment, just to challenge me every day.
“We’ll just have to cope with that. Look, it has been challenging. It’s what we’re going through, the challenges that are put before us.
“If we can get through this period and still be okay, it means we’ve got some promising things ahead of us.
“You benefit from it only if you approach it in the right manner.
UP IN ARMS…Filipe Jota celebrates the opening goal against Raith Rovers.
“It’s not an excuse. There are valid reasons why we’re a little bit inconsistent in the way we’re playing.
“We’ve lost our captain, we’ve lost our top goalscorer – and the other guys who can play in those front areas haven’t been available.
“So, those kind of things you can use as reasons for not progressing. But we’re not doing that.
“If we don’t perform, we take it on the chin, as we did on Sunday. Then we come back here and get the job done.
“If we get through this period, it just means we’ll be a stronger unit.”
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Obviously, it is pleasing that we are in the semis and it should be a great occasion. St Johnstone obviously did really well in the Cups last year and will be good opponents. It’s good for us to be there.
“I thought we did the job we needed to. We controlled the game from the early parts and got our goals really well. For the most part, we did the job we needed to do.
“It wasn’t anything too exciting, but, at the same time, the players worked hard and we got our victory.”