Brendan Rodgers yesterday gave an update on the left-back situation that will have disappointed many.
Kieran Tierney was ruled out by the manager in yesterday’s big news. As he gave his update, he stated that Tierney had indeed been training, but just wasn’t available in time.
It was a disappointment to supporters that would’ve hoped the club were ready to spring a surprise. Reports had been out that Tierney was desperate to make a return this evening. It all looked set up for a last-minute mammoth decision that he was going to be starting.
Unfortunately, that was just a tad wishful. Supporters were generally gutted, and Tierney’s recovery continues.
But, in truth, another piece of information Rodgers gave out was actually the most important part. That was the fact that Emilio Izaguirre is ready to play tonight.
He’s started five of Celtic’s first six matches since returning from the break. He’s in terrific form and has been developing a promising partnership with Scott Sinclair.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is the fact that he’s match-fit. Having Izzy back is so costly considering he’s likely to be sharp and 100% for tomorrow.
Izaguirre’s match-sharpness better than Tierney’s
That’s where big question marks would’ve hovered over Tierney. Yes, there’s no denying who the better left-back is. Tierney is a huge talent, and on his game, you’ll do well to find a more promising left-back in Britain.
But it all would’ve seemed a bit rushed had been thrown in tonight. If Izaguirre wasn’t fit, you have to wonder whether Rodgers would’ve ruled Tierney out so soon.
Izaguirre’s return, however, is the best news Celtic could’ve gotten yesterday. He’s the man who’s been getting to know his new team-mates better than Tierney on the pitch. That can’t be underestimated.
Meanwhile, it’s clear to see that Tierney is close to a return regardless. It remains to be seen if he’s fit for the second leg at the Mestalla, but even then would it be worth risking him?
There’s plenty of big games between now and the end of the season. Tierney, undoubtedly, has a massive part to play in the majority of them.
But for tonight, having Izzy injury-free was a lot more vital than rushing KT back prematurely.