Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday – as per Football Scotland – manager Ange Postecoglou confirmed that the Sweden international will be absent for the upcoming group stage meeting in Warsaw, while teammate James McCarthy also appears a doubt due to illness.
The 57-year-old stated:
“Starfelt misses out and McCarthy wasn’t well today so he didn’t train today. Everyone else is okay.”
This follows a report late last week that had suggested the 27-year-old will likely be unavailable until early next month with a knee injury, having been forced off early in the second half during the 4-0 thrashing of Old Firm foes, Rangers.
That news will come as something of a blow for the Hoops ahead of what is an already pivotal encounter with regards to their hopes of progression, having succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to holders Real Madrid last week.
Despite what was an encouraging performance at Parkhead on the whole from the Scottish champions, the hosts’ were ruthlessly undone by Carlo Ancelotti’s men in the second half, having been carved upon far too easily by the La Liga outfit.
The absence of Starfelt for that tie may well have been a factor in that late collapse, with the former Rubin Kazan man – who arrived in Glasgow on a £4.3m deal last summer – having been a typically reliable figure at the club in recent times.
The £15.5k-per-week titan proved instrumental in last season’s title triumph, with journalist Sacha Pisani lauding him as a “terrific signing” for Postecoglou and co, having proven himself “crucial” to the manager’s style of play.
After a difficult and at times shaky start to life in a green and white jersey, the £5.4m-rated colossus has since been in rock-solid form for the Old Firm giants, having recorded an impressive haul of 18 clean sheets from just 34 league appearances during the 2021/22 campaign.
While a hamstring injury has disrupted his impact in the early weeks of the new season – prior to this latest issue – the five-cap gem has impressed when he has featured thus far this term, notably netting twice in just three league games.
A player who can seemingly now make an impact at both ends of the pitch, it could well be a real headache for the Celtic boss not to have such a key asset available tonight.