PROBLEMS are piling up for Ange Postecoglou before Tuesday’s crucial Champions League second round first leg qualifier against FC Midtjylland at Parkhead.
The new Celtic boss watched as FOUR of his stars were injured before and during the goalless draw against Bristol City this evening.
Goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas sustained a hand injury in the warm-up and was immediately replaced by Scott Bain. Mikey Johnston and Karamoko Dembele limped off during the first-half and a struggling Ismail Soro was withdrawn at the interval.
Odsonne Edouard didn’t feature after going off against Charlton at the weekend, while Kristoffer Ajer has yet to play a minute after three pre-season games in the midst of transfer speculation with the Norwegian defender making it clear he wants to quit Parkhead.
Experienced campaigner James Forrest hasn’t contributed, either, following Covid issues.
PENSIVE…Ange Postecoglou has a lot to ponder as the injuries mount at Celtic.
Postecoglou told Celtic TV: “We’re not great on numbers at the moment. It’s a bit disappointing, we may have lost a couple today, but we’ll see how it all washes up.
“Hopefully, they’re not too bad.”
Barkas was seen on the touchline with his fingers strapped. An x-ray will determine the full extent of the injury, but if the Greek keeper has any broken bones he could be out for about two months.
The Hoops dominated a huge percentage of the encounter against the Championship outfit, but Postecoglou will be more than a little anxious they did not work the City goalkeeper a bit more. His team had a lot of possession, but were short on creativity and sharpness in the final third.
SIDELINED…Vasilis Barkas watches tonight’s game with two fingers bandaged after an accident in the warm-up.
Albian Ajeti showed signs of things to come when Johnston set him up with a neat pass in the sixth minute, but the Swiss frontman fired into the side netting.
The winger then appeared to pull a hamstring after 25 minutes and was replaced by Adam Montgomery. Karamoko Dembele, who scored a goal and was impressive during his 45 minutes in the 2-1 win over Charlton, took a knock and had to come off with Ewan Henderson taking his place wide on the right.
Ajeti had the only meaningful shot on target just before the interval, but his low drive was saved by the feet of City netminder Max O’Leary.
It was the same story after the turnaround with the visitors with Callum McGregor busy, Liam Shaw eager to contribute, Osaze Urhoghide fitting in nicely and Greg Taylor thrustful on the left.
CRUNCH…Osaze Urhoghide is challenged by a determined Bristol City in the scoreless stalemate.
Now Postecoglou’s side will play their first pre-season game of their preparations at Parkhead when Preston visit on Saturday.
The former Australia international manager added: “Naturally, I am excited about it and I think the whole group is, too.
“Obviously, it’ll be my first experience – albeit with 2,000 there, but I’m sure they’ll make a lot more noise than just 2,000.
“But, to be honest, I think the whole playing group and all the staff are looking forward to being back at Celtic Park and, more importantly, having some supporters in there.”
STARTING LINE-UP: Bain; Ralston, Welsh, Urhoghide, Taylor; Soro, McGregor, Dembele, Turnbull, Johnston, Ajeti. Subs: Hazard, Ntcham, Shaw, Robertson, Murray, Henderson, Montgomery, Hjelde, Moffat.