Celtic are set to be without Tom Rogic for the huge trip to Ibrox on December 29th.
The Wizard of Oz has been one of Celtic’s key performers over the Brendan Rodgers era. He would be one of the first names on the teamsheet at Ibrox, but may have to leave to go on international duty.
The Aussies are taking part in the Asia Cup this year – a competition which begins on January 6th. The tournamnent’s group stages conclude on January 16. The final will be played on February 1st. That means Rogic would likely miss a further five matches if Australia went all the way.
His first game upon returning would likely be the mouth-watering Europa League last-32 clash with Valencia.
BBC Scotland spoke to a spokesman from the Australian Football Federation. They had this to say on why Rogic’s last game would be the trip to Aberdeen.
“This is two days over the Fifa regulation and has been communicated with all clubs.
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“It ensures some players get an extra game in for their clubs and enjoy Christmas with their families and friends at home.”
Replacing Rogic will be a huge task
Rogic has been proven to be a real talisman in this fixture. He has five goals against Rangers to his name, with a memorable stunner on his last visit to Ibrox.
The Aussie has also scored on both of his last two trips to the other side of Glasgow. It seems increasingly likely that Rogic won’t be available for what’s going to be a huge contest.
There is of course the small chance that Rogic drops out of the squad. Australia would then have the option that Northern Ireland took on Rangers’ Kyle Lafferty earlier this season and stop him playing against Rangers.
Celtic do have the likes of Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor to play in the number 10 role. Neither, however, have the same big-game impact or all-round quality as Rogic.
From Celtic’s perspective, it’s difficult to see a way around this. Rogic’s last game is scheduled to be Pittodrie on Boxing Day before it’s goodbye for potentially a month-and-a-half.
It’ll be interesting to see how this continues to play out.