IT will be highly interesting to see who takes Callum McGregor’s anchorman role against St Johnstone in Perth tomorrow.
The Celtic skipper may be out for a lengthy period depending on the extent of the injury that saw him hobble off in the first-half of the 3-1 Champions League loss to RB Leipzig in midweek.
The inspirational international midfielder was already due to miss the 12.30 kick-off at McDiarmid Park following his red card in the 2-1 win over Motherwell at Parkhead last weekend.
Ange Postecoglou may have given us a clue to his intended successor when he immediately replaced the crocked captain with new Bhoy Oliver Abildgaard in Germany.
NET LOSS…Oliver Abildgaard can only look on after Andre Silva scores RB Leipzig’s second goal in midweek.
That switch tended to suggest the towering Dane, on a season-long loan from Rubin Kazan, had been earmarked for the role against Callum Davidson’s side.
However, Abildgaard, who has not played a full game for a few months, looked well off the pace in the 53 minutes he was on the pitch at the Red Bull Arena.
There were obvious signs of ring rust, his passing was off, his timing in the tackle wasn’t sharp and his all-round display did not inspire confidence. We’ll cut the lad some slack and say he will show improvement as he builds his match fitness levels.
Curiously, Abildgaard was named in Postecoglou’s Champions League squad at the expense of another holding midfield player, Yosuke Ideguchi.
OUCH…Yosuke Ideguchi expresses anguish in the pre-season friendly against Blackburn Rovers.
The Japanese international, who arrived on Hogmanay along with Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate after the manager’s triple swoop on the J-League, has had his injury problems since signing.
He hobbled off following a shocking studs-up assault from Alloa’s Muhammed Diang in his first start in the Scottish Cup-tie back on January 22. The errant opponent had his booking by overly-lenient referee Don Robertson upgraded to a red card after the incident had been reviewed by the SFA panel.
A knock during training has hindered Ideguchi’s progress this time around and that could veto any chance of a first-team opportunity against the Perth Saints.
IN THE RUNNING…Aaron Mooy hopes to be fully recovered from injury to get in contention for Perth.
Aaron Mooy missed the flight to Germany on Tuesday after sustaining “a niggle” during a session at Lennoxtown and the Australian World Cup-bound ace may still be struggling to overcome the problem.
He started in the 2-0 loss to St Mirren in Paisley three weeks ago, but was hooked at half-time after his failure to track the run of Mark O’Hara who was unguarded at the back post to head in the opening goal just before the turnaround.
Unless Postecoglou changes the shape of his formation, the fourth main contender is the rarely-seen James McCarthy, signed on a free transfer from Crystal Palace in August last year.
The Republic of Ireland international made only six starts last term, but, intriguingly, he had a brief cameo against RB Leipzig when he replaced Reo Hatate in the 82nd minute.
ON THE BALL…James McCarthy in action during Celtic’s 3-1 win at McDiarmid Park last season.
McCarthy still has the best part of three years to run on his contract and is eager to make up for lost time.
He appears to possess a wider range of passing than his three team-mates, he played at the same venue when the Hoops won 3-1 just before the turn of the year and that could see the 31-year-old Glaswegian get the nod on this occasion.
Postecoglou will then address the situation beyond the Perth encounter once the injury to McGregor is fully diagnosed.
The guessing game will continue until the team is announced before noon tomorrow, but one thing is certain – whoever gets the captain’s role has big boots to fill.