Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is facing a nervous wait regarding the fitness of two of his key men ahead of Tuesday’s mouthwatering Champions League encounter with holders, Real Madrid.
What’s the word?
Speaking after Saturday’s thumping Old Firm derby victory over Rangers (via Glasgow Live), the title-winning coach revealed that both Kyogo Furuhashi and Carl Starfelt will have to be assessed having both been forced off in that 4-0 triumph.
The 56-year-old stated: “We’ll see how it is. It was a shoulder injury [for Kyogo]. Carl had a niggle in his knee. It’s a bit of a blow because Kyogo has been in brilliant form so far this season. We’ll assess them after this.”
The in-form Kyogo was substituted just a matter of minutes into yesterday’s 4-0 win after sustaining a shoulder injury, while teammate Starfelt was replaced by summer signing Mortiz Jenz early in the second half with a knee complaint.
Huge blow for Postecoglou
Postecoglou will no doubt be sweating on the availability of those two impressive figures, as the former Yokohama boss looks to prepare his side for what will be a stern test against the mighty Los Blancos at Parkhead in just a few days’ time.
After a five-year absence from Europe’s premier competition, supporters will no doubt be desperate to see their side put up a real fight against the 14-time champions, as the Hoops look to carry over their sparkling domestic form against the continent’s best.
With six wins from six thus far in the Scottish Premiership for the Glasgow outfit, one man who was been integral to that sensational start to the campaign is Kyogo, with the Japan international having scored six goals in as many games thus far.
Will Celtic get a shock win over Madrid?
Yes, total faith
The 27-year-old – who arrived in Scotland last summer – had previously netted 12 goals across in just 20 top-flight games during 2021/22 in what was a blistering debut campaign at Celtic Park, despite enduring a lengthy stint out with injury.
Although Giorgos Giakoumakis offers a real quality alternative, Postecoglou and co will no doubt be hoping to have the former Vissel Kobe man leading the line instead, with the 15-cap gem integral to their fluid attacking approach.
As for Starfelt, while there is strength in depth at centre-back with both the aforementioned Jenz and Stephen Welsh in reserve, the Sweden international has been a solid presence in recent times, shaking off a rocky start to form an “immense” partnership with Cameron Carter-Vickers last term – in the words of pundit Chris Sutton.
The former Rubin Kazan man has already been blighted by injury in the early weeks of the season, albeit while having added another string to his bow after scoring twice in the league already this term.
With loanee Jenz still easing his way into life at Celtic, it may well require the more experienced Starfelt to help contend with the likes of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr in midweek.
It will prove a sizeable task trying to get a result against Carlo Ancelotti’s imperious outfit, with the potential absence of both the Swede and teammate Kyogo sure to come as a gutting blow for the Greek-Australian manager.