Celtic have been dealt a potential double injury blow ahead of their upcoming Scottish Premiership fixture.
In recent comments cited by the Daily Record, Ange Postecoglou revealed that both Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor are nearing a return from their respective injuries, however, the 56-year-old expects neither the left-back nor the centre-back to be available for selection for the visit of Hearts on Thursday.
After revealing that both Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton look set to feature in the midweek fixture, the Bhoys boss then said: “Carl Starfelt isn’t too far away, Greg Taylor isn’t too far away, so we are getting some troops back. It’s a heavy schedule and we don’t want our level of performance to drop.”
Considering the fact that Celtic can take a huge step towards making the Scottish Premiership title race a two-horse battle with a victory over third-placed Hearts, the news that both Taylor and Starfelt look as if they will miss out on the fixture is sure to have left fans of the club gutted.
Indeed, left-back has been a problem area for the Hoops so far this season, with Postecoglou often being left with no other choice than to field right-back Josip Juranovic out of position on the opposite flank, due to a lack of strength in depth on the left-hand side of the 56-year-old’s backline.
Meanwhile, the continued absence of Starfelt will also come as a huge blow to the Greek-Australian manager, as the defender has highly impressed over his 11 league appearances so far this season, helping his side keep five clean sheets, as well as making an average of 1.5 interceptions, 1.1 tackles and winning 6.3 duels per game – with these returns seeing the £2.7m-rated man average a SofaScore match rating of 7.23.
As such, it is undeniable that the unavailability of the duo will dent Celtic’s chances of picking up all three points against Hearts on Thursday, although, considering the Hoops’ impressive run of recent results in the league, Postecoglou’s side may well have enough to get past Robbie Neilson’s men even without Taylor and Starfelt.