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Celtic suffer another blow as Hatem Elhamed is ruled out for Old Firm clash

Celtic have suffered another cruel blow ahead of this weekend’s top-of-the-table Old Firm clash at Parkhead.

Hoops centre-back Hatem Abd Elhamed has been ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19 and will now be forced to self-isolate for the next two weeks.

The Israeli defender reported feeling unwell after playing in their 2-1 defeat against the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon, just three days after he played against Scotland in a Euro 2020 qualifier, in which they lost on penalties.

Both Bhoys midfielder Callum McGregor and Gers maestro Ryan Jack started for Steve Clarke’s Tartan Army too. They then went onto beat Slovakia 1-0 thanks to a resolute showing from Declan Gallagher on Sunday.

Can Celtic beat Rangers without Christie, Edouard and Elhamed?

Absolutely!

Absolutely!

I'm a bit worried

I'm a bit worried

No chance...

No chance...

Elhamed joins fellow international teammate Nir Bitton in missing the crucial derby match, adding to Neil Lennon’s nightmare as star playmaker Ryan Christie is also out too.

Even though he hasn’t tested positive for the virus, he has to self-isolate due to his close contact with former Celtic star Stuart Armstrong.

It doesn’t end there though as there will be serious doubts over leading talisman Odsonne Edouard, who will return to training just one day before the match, putting his fitness and wellbeing into question.

That is a total of four first-team players that Lennon could be without as they face Rangers, who sit above them in the table on Saturday.

Elhamed and Bitton are two defensive options, meaning he could be forced into starting Christopher Jullien, which may be a gamble seeing as he’s only just returned from injury.

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Who scored the winning goal of the first Old Firm derby of the 21st century?

Likewise in the attack, it’ll have to be Albian Ajeti, who has also been on the treatment table recently, paired with a rarely-seen Leigh Griffiths or a winger like Moi Elyounoussi playing out of position once again.

This is far from ideal when the Hoops are playing chase in the title race already, such injuries and set-backs could well put their unbeaten start in jeopardy – all against their only true challenger too.

Lennon will be glad to see the back of this international break, that’s for sure.

AND in other news, Celtic can’t repeat their Stuart Armstrong-like mistake with £10m STAR…

Article title: Celtic suffer another blow as Hatem Elhamed is ruled out for Old Firm clash

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