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Celtic: Parkhead outfit dealt double injury blow ahead of Shakhtar clash

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has provided an update on the fitness of his squad ahead of tonight’s Champions League showdown against Shakhtar Donetsk at Parkhead.

What’s the word?

As per Sky Sports, the 57-year-old has confirmed that the encounter with the Ukrainian outfit will come too soon for both defender Carl Starfelt and wing wizard Jota, albeit with Scotland international David Turnbull set to return after his recent absence.

Speaking on Monday regarding those absentees, the Hoops boss stated: “Jota had his last rehab session and is expected to start training with us again after the game and be available again for the weekend,

“Dave Turnbull is alright. Carl’s back in training which is great but it’s too early tomorrow. The idea is to get him back in training in the next few days and see how it goes.”

Starfelt has been out of action since sustaining a knee injury during the Old Firm derby triumph in early September, while Jota has been on the sidelines since coming off at half-time in the win over St Johnstone a couple of weeks ago.

Awful news for Postecoglou

As Postecoglou also went on to suggest, it is a simply “must-win” game for the Old Firm outfit tonight, with the Hoops needing to secure all three points to have any hope of salvaging a Europa League place, having already seen their hopes of progression in the Champions League extinguished.

With four points currently separating the Glasgow side and Shakhtar, a win at Parkhead would ensure that the hosts would still need to secure a positive result away to Real Madrid on the final gameweek, although the aim for now will be to simply pick up a first win in this season’s group stage campaign tonight.

To be without Jota and Starfelt will no doubt be awful news as far as Postecoglou is concerned, with the former Yokohama boss having regularly counted on that duo throughout his tenure at Paradise so far.

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In the case of Starfelt, the Sweden international overcame a slow start to forge an “immense” partnership alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers at the heart of the defence last season – as described by ex-Bhoys striker Chris Sutton – with 27-year-old notably keeping 18 clean sheets in 34 league games in that glorious campaign.

His absence this term – which has seen the former Rubin Kazan man make just three Premiership appearances – has allowed Stephen Welsh and Moritz Jenz to vie for a starting berth. However, both have had their shaky moments of late, with the latter notably giving away a penalty in Saturday’s thriller against Hearts.

As such, it would have been a welcome sight to have the £5.4m-rated Swede back in action for such a crucial meeting against Igor Jovicevic’s side, although the Hoops will have to do without the five-cap colossus once again.

The absence of the aforementioned Jota is seemingly an even greater blow for the Scottish champions, with the Portuguese starlet having been in fine form already this season, scoring five goals and laying on five assists in just 12 games across all competitions.

The 23-year-old – who was signed on a permanent deal this summer after a stunning initial loan spell – had previously made 27 goal contributions during the 2021/22 campaign, having been a “revelation” for the club to date according to ex-Scotland manager Alex McLeish.

The only man to score in the Champions League for Celtic this season – with the club’s only other strike coming as an own goal in the reverse meeting with tonight’s opponents in Warsaw – it is no doubt a sizeable blow not to have the dynamic asset in tow here.

Article title: Celtic: Parkhead outfit dealt double injury blow ahead of Shakhtar clash

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