Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side return to Premiership action this evening, with a testing trip to Hearts on the cards for the 56-year-old’s Bhoys side.
And, while the Hoops head into the fixture on a run of 11 games without defeat in all competitions, the Greek-Australian Hoops boss once again finds himself short of options in a number of positions within his first-team squad – something that has so often been the case for Celtic this season.
Indeed, Kyogo Furuhashi and David Turnbull are currently both sidelined due to hamstring injuries, while Callum McGregor, Liel Abada and Yosuke Ideguchi were also brought off in last weekend’s 2-1 Scottish Cup victory over Alloa Athletic after picking up knocks.
Furthermore, both Daizen Maeda and Tom Rogic are also unavailable for the trip to Tynecastle as a result of being called up for international duty with Japan and Australia respectively.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for the Bhoys, as the club’s Portuguese sensation, Jota, appears to finally be ready to make a return to the starting XI tonight, having played eight minutes of the 2-0 win over Hibernian last week, as well as getting a little over half an hour of game time under his belt against Alloa on Saturday – following his own recovery from a hamstring injury.
The £4.95m-rated forward’s return to fitness could hardly have come at a better time for Postecoglou, not only because of the sheer amount of players the 56-year-old has missing but also because this evening’s opponents boast the third-best defensive record in the Premiership.
And, considering just how deadly the 22-year-old has been over his 12 league outings in the current campaign, the Portugal U21 international is undoubtedly a player who could break Hearts at Tynecastle.
Indeed, the £7.1k-per-week forward has already bagged five goals, provided four assists and created two big chances for his teammates in the league, as well as taking an average of 2.8 shots and making 1.4 key passes per game.
These returns have seen the player who Celtic fans “love” average a rather astonishing SofaScore match rating of 7.31, ranking him as the joint seventh-best player in the whole of Scottish top flight so far this season.
As such, it is clear for all to see that Postecoglou simply must unleash the winger from the off this evening, as the Hoops’ chances of leaving Edinburgh with all three points will undoubtedly receive a substantial boost if Jota is included in the starting XI.