Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou explains the absence of Giakoumakis against St Mirren

By Euan Davidson

March 2, 2022

Ange Postecoglou has explained that Celtic striker Giorgos Giakoumakis could’ve been on the bench tonight against St Mirren.

However, with a trip to West Lothian to face Livingston on Sunday, the Greek striker has been rested, with Albian Ajeti a surprise pick on the bench.

Giakoumakis, a man bang in form, was missing against Hibernian, with Celtic lacking options off the bench. Albian Ajeti had been injured since featuring against Real Betis, but has been recalled to the bench. Daizen Maeda started in a front three with Jota and Liel Abada.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Postecoglou said [BBC Sportsound, 19.21]: “Yeah, look; [Giakoumakis] probably could’ve come on the bench, but we’ve got another big game on the weekend [against Livingston].

“With Albian Ajeti coming back and being available, I think we’ve got enough options off the bench. I’ve given him an extra day to recover and get right for the weekend.”

Ajeti has scored 3 times in 17 outings for Celtic this season [Transfermarkt], with his last league appearance coming late against Aberdeen in November. Giakoumakis’ last outing was against Bodo/Glimt, having scored a hat-trick against Dundee in the match prior.

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Celtic battle on without Giakoumakis, but St Mirren prove a tough nut to crack

In a free-flowing, open game, Celtic looked to have upped the tempo from the last two games.

Matt O’Riley was unlucky not to set up Daizen Maeda, with his pass on 16 minutes having just a bit too much on it. Similarly, Hatate crossed into Maeda from close range, but at an awkward height. Abada had a snap-shot in the box, but it was too crowded in front of him for the chance to be converted.

It was better stuff from Celtic, though. The long, hopeful passes to Daizen Maeda were replaced with more crisp deliveries, and the Japanese striker was unlucky to not have a goal to his name by the 20 minute mark.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Around 25 minutes, from an excellent build-up, Juranovic found himself outside the box with plenty of pace on the ball. The shot, however, was rising all the time. But there was momentum with Celtic, and the fluency of prior performances seemed to be coming back.

It would be tempting to wonder where having Giakoumakis available would’ve seen Celtic go up sooner. However, with St Mirren congesting the 18-yard box, and the final ball just not being quite there, it’s hard to say the big Greek striker would’ve made a material difference.

St Mirren kept Celtic away from the 6-yard box. Although Dunne nearly scored two own goals, shots were being forced from outside the box. The Buddies were proving hard to break down.

With another half of football left, Celtic’s pressure should show. Will we miss Giakoumakis in the second 45?

Read more: “Stay calm”; Celtic loanee Osaze Urhoghide lists where he needs to improve his game