BRENDAN RODGERS is poised to send a dramatic SOS to Liam Scales as Celtic central defensive injuries pile up.
New Bhoy Maik Nawrocki, who has played only three games since his £4.3million arrival from Legia Warsaw, sustained a hamstring pull in the closing stages of the Viaplay League Cup exit at Kilmarnock on Sunday.
The Pole is now rated extremely doubtful for the first derby of the season at Ibrox in 12 days’ time with Cameron Carter-Vickers struggling and back-up stopper Stephen Welsh already out, according to a report in the Daily Record.
HANDS UP…Brendan Rodgers has been hit with a defensive injury crisis.
The USA World Cup star, the Hoops’ rock in the middle of their rearguard, didn’t reappear after the interval in the 3-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the second league game of the campaign.
The £6million ex-Spurs centre-back has also sustained a hamstring injury and boss Rodgers hasn’t been given a timeline for the player’s recovery.
Welsh, who replaced Carter-Vickers against the Dons, is set to have an operation after it was revealed he ruptured ankle ligaments in a freak training accident only hours after signing a contract extension on Friday.
Rodgers has already admitted the former Scotland Under-21 international skipper could be out for “three to four months”.
Gustaf Lagerbiekle, who made his debut in the 1-0 loss at Rugby Park only four days after completing his £3million switch from Elfsborg, now looks set for a string of games in the first team.
CRUNCH…Maik Nawrocki is a tussle for possession with Killie’s Marley Watkins.
The Hoops gaffer is running out of alternatives with Yuki Kobayashi, signed from J-League outfit Vissel Kobe in January, still not up to full speed while his versatile countryman Tomoki Iwata has been utilised as a makeshift centre-half in emergences, but the midfielder has failed to convince in the position.
Twenty-five-year-old Scales, signed from Shamrock Rovers for £600,000 in August 2021, is now ready to stand up to be counted and the champions’ injury crisis will scupper any hopes Aberdeen had of taking the utility performer back to Pittodrie for a second successive loan season.
It now looks like a case of Send On Scales.
The Republic of Ireland international was praised by Rodgers after the pre-season 1-1 draw with Wolves at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin where he played the entire 90 minutes.
DEBUT DESPAIR…Gustaf Lagerbiekle can’t hide his disappointment at full-time at Rugby Park.
Afterwards, the second time-around Parkhead manager, as reported by CQN, said: “Liam’s excellent and I really like him. He’s an intelligent boy.
“He’s come over, obviously gone out to Aberdeen on loan and done really well. He’ll be at an age where he’ll want to play.
“I just think you need to have a strong squad. You have to make sure you have the depth there.”
Carl Starfelt was sold to La Liga side Celta Vigo earlier this month and top prospect Bosun Lawal has just joined Scott Brown’s Fleetwood Town on a season-long temporary loan.
Rodgers could recall the four times-capped Republic of Ireland Under-21 defender, but that is highly unlikely.
The boss could also be forced into the transfer market for a permanent or short-term solution, but it seems his first choice will be to bring in Scales against St Johnstone at Parkhead on Saturday ahead of the encounter with Michael Beale’s club in Govan eight days later.