CFR Cluj could be dealt a cruel blow with Emmanuel Culio reportedly set to miss next week’s first-leg against Celtic.
The Hoops travel to Romania looking to take a lead back to Scotland on Wednesday night. It’s the first time the two sides will have met, and it’s certainly going to be a good barometer of where we are in Europe.
And it looks as though Cluj have already been dealt a blow ahead of the game. According to the Sun, midfielder Culio has been struck with a knock in Tel-Aviv. He apparently is unlikely to be fit for the visit of the Bhoys, leaving Cluj missing one of their main men.
Culio netted a crucial goal in Tel-Aviv to send his side into the third qualifying round. Last season, the Argentine managed seven goals and three assists from his central-midfield position. Culio can play in the centre of the engine room or even pushed further up as an attacking threat.
The 35-year-old veteran is certainly a player that makes Cluj tick, and it will be interesting to see how Dan Petrescu plays this out. There’s been no news on whether he’ll definitely be fit for the trip to Parkhead in two weeks.
Emmanuel Culio could prove a big blow – but where are we at with injuries?
Celtic, meanwhile, were able to welcome back Marian Shved to the side on Tuesday night. The Ukrainian marked his competitive debut with a fine goal, and that’s a timely boost ahead of the domestic season starting on Saturday.
In addition to that, it’s safe to say Christopher Jullien is now good to go too after his impressive 90-minute debut in Estonia. That’s another we can potentially bring into the Cluj mix if Neil Lennon feels necessary.
Eboue Kouassi and Vakoun Issouf Bayo were both left at home this week of course. They don’t look likely to play a part next week as it stands. Daniel Arzani and Tom Rogic, meanwhile, haven’t been confirmed as available by Lennon either.
Both sides will still be able to send out a strong side next week in any case. Petrescu can bring in the likes of Andrei Muresan or Damjan Djokovic as a natural alternative to Culio. There are options for Cluj, but it may force them to rejig their midfield shape.
Celtic, meanwhile, are absolutely flying into this one. Another victory against St Johnstone on Saturday during Flag Day and we can’t ask for any more than what we’re getting heading into the Cluj match.
It’ll be interesting to see just how effective Culio’s reported absence will be if he does indeed miss out.