Great news for Celtic has arrived for today in the fact that Brendan Rodgers is giving Kieran Tierney every chance to be fit for Thursday night.
Valencia visit Celtic Park this week in the mouth-watering Europa League last-32 first-leg clash with Rodgers’ men. If Celtic are to have any chance of coming away with a positive result, it’s clear they’ll need their strongest XI possible.
And therefore, The Scottish Sun’s report that Rodgers will give Tierney until tomorrow to prove himself is great news. On the other side of the coin, however, if he is fit, Rodgers may not have a choice either way.
There’s yet to be an update on the fitness of Emilio Izaguirre. You have to expect the Celtic manager to bring that up at tomorrow’s pre-match press conference at Parkhead.
But after taking such a nasty challenge from Darnell Johnson of Hibs last week, Izzy’s chances look doubtful. He also missed the squad that hammered St Johnstone last weekend in convincing fashion.
Outside of the Honduran, Celtic have no natural left-back replacement.
Tierney doesn’t have a viable replacement with Izzy out
Jonny Hayes may have had a stormer against Saints on Saturday, but can he truly be trusted this Thursday night? That’s doubtful to say the least.
Andrew Gutman is away out on loan, meaning Tierney’s return could be an even bigger boost than before.
Question marks would immediately be raised over the wonder kid’s fitness levels. It would all feel just a tad rushed if Rodgers brought him back and threw him straight into the first-team.
But the truth is that the Celtic manager may be left with absolutely no alternative.
Playing Callum McGregor at left-back would be a no-go. He has far too much to offer going forward from the midfield, and his movement and range of passing will be so key in that engine room on Thursday. We saw how much of a disaster it was when he was out of the midfield at Ibrox back in December.
Hayes, meanwhile, has yet to be tested defensively. Given he’s a naturally a winger, it’s difficult to see him coping with one of La Liga’s best sides at left-back.
If Izaguirre misses out, Rodgers has to go with Tierney and hope he comes through it well. If he doesn’t, what’s the alternative?