CELTIC boss Ange Postecoglou has urged referees to protect players from wayward and reckless challenges.

The Hoops gaffer was grim-faced after his side’s 2-1 Scottish Cup win over the third-tier bruisers of Alloa at the weekend.

Postecoglou was so alarmed and anxious at the aggressive nature of the opponents he ordered his players to ease off tackles towards the end of the game for fear of any more knocks.

Skipper Callum McGregor didn’t even last the first-half before being helped off after sustaining a facial injury following a full-throttle mid-air collision with Adam King.

GRIM-FACED…Ange Postecoglou can’t disguise his feelings at the end of the game at Alloa.

Liel Abada was next to go as he was left writhing in pain only seven minutes after the turnaround following a tackle from Muhamed Niang.

And the same player was involved in an unacceptable flashpoint incident with Yosuke Ideguchi in the 68th minute which saw the Japanese midfielder limp off in obvious distress.

Overly-lenient Don Robertson deemed it merely a yellow-card offence and Niang remarkably escaped an instant dismissal. However, the Senegalese international could still face a ban as the SFA Compliance Officer cited the on-loan Partick Thistle player yesterday.

Postecoglou will now be without the services of McGregor and Ideguchi, who was making his first start against Barry Ferguson’s inadequate battlers, for the foreseeable future and the nearest either player will get to the action against Hearts at Tynecastle this evening will be a place in the stand.

The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “I’m disappointed for Ideguchi because he wants to come in and make an impact.

SEEING RED…Yosuke Ideguchi’s left ankle buckles under the follow-through challenge from Alloa’s Muhamed Niang.

“To be out for a period of time because of something that during the game could have been taken control of by the referee is disappointing for him.

“I think the referee’s role in any game is to be the protector of both sets of players and to make sure there’s an environment that protects players from incidents like we saw.

“It wasn’t just the one that caused the injury, I thought there were quite a few challenges he could have taken better control of. For me, that’s one of the primary roles of any referee.

“I don’t question referee’s decisions, I understand they’ve got a difficult job to do. We’ve had some good ones, we’ve had some bad ones, but I’ve never used them as an excuse.

“But in terms of protection of players, that’s where referees have to be vigilant, because we’re told they will be at the start of every season.”

DOWN AND OUT…Callum McGregor is grounded after sustaining a facial knock.

DOWN AND OUT…Liel Abada receives treatment as Tom Rogic looks on.

DOWN AND OUT…Yosuke Ideguchi writhes in pain.

Fifty-six-year-old Postecoglou, speaking to the Glasgow Times, continued: “I’ve managed in different countries, I’ve managed in World Cups, and there are certain rules that have changed along the way in my 25 years of management.

“But the one consistent factor is that we’re always shown this vision of actions they deem to be premeditated or reckless. It doesn’t have to be premeditated, it can just be a challenge that is reckless and anything that endangers a player on the field should be dealt with.

“I was disappointed it wasn’t dealt with the other night.

”Most countries have VAR now and those kind of things don’t escape punishment anymore.

“That’s the right way to go about it. I don’t think anybody wants to see that [type of tackle], and at the same time we want to sell this game and keep increasing the attention the game here in Scotland gets. We want to showcase it.

CONCERNED…Ange Postecoglou talks to Premier Sports after the Alloa roughhouse.

“We’ve signed players from the other side of the world, Hearts have signed a couple of Aussies. The game here is getting a global reach now and I don’t think people want to tune in and see people getting hurt.

“They want to tune in and see exciting football, so it falls on everyone to protect the image of the game.”

Postecoglou added: “If you have VAR, those sorts of incidents are dealt with pretty quickly now and what you see is less and less of them because players know they can’t escape that anymore.

“Here in Scotland, we obviously don’t have VAR, but it’s not just referees, because they can sometimes miss things.

“There are linesmen, fourth officials who are also part of the game and their role is to protect that environment, so we all see what we want to see – and that is football being played.”

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