CAMERON CARTER-VICKERS, Aaron Mooy and Daizen Maeda will swap sweltering Qatar for chilly Pittodrie this afternoon.
Three of Celtic’s four representatives in the World Cup Finals are up for selection for the Premiership restart against Aberdeen in the north east with a 12.30pm kick-off.
USA central defender Carter-Vickers, Australian midfielder Mooy and Japanese raider Maeda all acquited themselves well during the soccer showpiece in the Middle East, but it is back to club action today as the champions bid to restore their nine-point advantage at the pinnacle.
WORLD CUP SUCCESS…Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrates with his USA team-mates after the 1-0 win over Iran.
It had been thought the international trio may have been given an extended break, but Ange Postecoglou has decided to pitch them straight back into his first-team squad and insisted a week off was “plenty”.
As the prepared for the confrontation with Jim Goodwin’s third-placed Dons, the Hoops boss will welcome back skipper Callum McGregor who has missed the last 11 competitive games following a knee injury in the Champions League match against RB Leipzig in Germany on October 5.
Josip Juranovic, of course, is still in Qatar although he has a calf problem and will sit out Croatia’s third-place play-off confrontation with Morocco at 3pm this afternoon.
Injured double-act James McCarthy and Stephen Welsh are both out for the next week or so, but Carter-Vickers, Mooy and Maeda could all figure at Pittodrie.
THE BHOY DANE GOOD…Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy is all smiles after the 1-0 victory over Denmark.
Postecoglou said: “All our players had a week off, so the ones who didn’t go to the World Cup had a week off after Australia.
“And the guys who were there – the three mentioned plus Alistair Johnston – once they finished their World Cup commitments, we gave them a week off. And that’s plenty.
“After a week off, they were ready to come back and they’re ready to play.”
The 57-year-old Greek-Australian gaffer is looking forward to continuing the momentum from the first half of the campaign and, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “We’ve been back for a couple of weeks.
“We had a good week in Portugal and a good week training here, and we’re ready to get going again.
“It’s always a tough game at Aberdeen. Even last year, we won there twice, but both of them were tough games, so you expect a tough game.
BY THE LEFT…Daizen Maeda strikes to put Japan ahead against Croatia with Celtic team-mate Josip Juranovic looking on. The defender enjoyed success when his nation won the penalty-kick shoot-out.
“Their home form’s been great, but I think it’s probably been missed by a few people. However, our away form’s not bad, either.
“We obviously had a really strong start to the season in the league and the key to that now is to keep improving and I don’t think there’s any reason why we shouldn’t.”
Postecoglou added: “Our league form’s been very strong even though we had a really hectic schedule, including Champions League games, going into the break.
“So, whilst the schedule is just as challenging moving forward, we don’t have that challenge of Champions League football and we’ve got a couple of players back from injury, as well, which I think will hopefully make us stronger moving forward.”
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