Excellent news from Lennoxtown as 4 of the big international break Celtic concerns are cleared up

By John McGinley

March 31, 2023

While it’s an undoubted blow that Liel Abada and Anthony Ralston will be missing through injury for a number of weeks, as we discussed earlier, the truth is that Celtic have come out of the international break in pretty good shape.

Considering fans went into the fortnight with a number of concerns – particularly around Reo Hatate’s apparent hamstring issue – Celtic are fighting fit for Sunday and in even better shape for next weekend’s derby against Rangers.

Postecoglou confirmed in a press conference today that Reo Hatate is not far away from a return to squad contention and is back in training. When he trundled off at home to Hibs just prior to the break, many worried he could be missing for a few more weeks at least.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic Bhoys are on the mend for the run in

Aaron Mooy meanwhile is also closing in on a squad place, similarly returning to training alongside his Japanese teammates. He had withdrawn from the Australia fixtures across the world after a back complaint in recent weeks. He’s been in superb form since the World Cup and while he may not quite make the County fixture, having him around for the visit of Rangers could be key.

With Greg Taylor also pictured and recorded looking spry in training this week, his situation looks sound too. He wasn’t called up to the Scotland squad on the advice of physios and even though he subsequently played against Hibs, the left-back looked far from 100% and was substituted off after an hour. He later posted on Instagram it was a much-needed break, with Postecoglou confirming he had been playing through the pain barrier.

Daizen Maeda, too, is back in Celtic training and all good to go despite having his own worries throughout the break. He travelled to meet up with the Japan squad but didn’t feature in their friendly matches due to concerns about the knee injury he sustained against Hearts earlier this month. He even travelled home earlier, prompting a rush of headlines about another ‘blow’ to Celtic.

All in all, the squad is in fine shape for a final push for trophies over the next two months. A win in the Highlands would set us up perfectly for a Celtic Park derby. If we also come out victorious in that, we’ll be approaching champions-elect status – then it’s about getting the job done in the Scottish Cup, too.

There’s still a lot of football to be played, however. While we can dream and get excited as fans, Postecoglou will be preaching to his players that the only thing that matters right now is the kick-off on Sunday lunchtime.

In other news, Chris Sutton calls on the SFA and SPFL to scrap VAR completely.