What we learned about Celtic players involved in international break
It’s alright everyone; the international break is over, and it’s time to get back to cheering on Celtic.
Even better, we can do so knowing that this time, nobody got injured. The Bhoys had a large compliment of players heading overseas to represent their countries, and for once, the Celtic manager can breathe easy.
In any circumstance, that’s just as well. Particularly so this time round though. A ridiculous spell of bad luck hampered Celtic to no end over recent weeks, with some star names hampered by knocks picked up on international duty.
With some truly crucial fixtures up ahead, Ange Postecoglou – a former international manager himself – will have been crossing his fingers. It worked.
But beyond that, what did we actually learn? Who starred and who disappointed representing Celtic on the world stage in the latest international break?
Let’s have a look at who went, who played, and how they did.
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Callum McGregor and David Turnbull; an ideal international break for two Celtic midfielders
Scotland have four wins on the trot. Fine, last night was immensely frustrating for the Tartan Army, but they ground out a result against the Faroe Islands, after a last-gasp win over Israel.
Callum McGregor was key for the latter, and important in the former. Left out of the first team after his exertions against Israel, the Scotland midfield faltered in his absence. After being brought on after 68 minutes, there was a definite change in how well the midfield motored.
Is it ideal that a player just off an injury got more than 120 minutes of action this week? Probably not, but he showed enough to suggest that he’s past his injury woes.
Frustratingly, David Turnbull was left out of both encounters. His time for Scotland will surely come.
Nir Bitton and Liel Abada
Liel Abada made his third outing for the Israeli national team. The Celtic winger probably deserved more than his 16 minutes of action this international break. However, he’s still young, and constantly improving.
Nir Bitton, though? A vital player for Israel. But he didn’t exactly have the best time against Scotland, playing in the heart of defence. Against Moldova, he fared far better, winning 4 tackles and playing the ball extremely accurately [WhoScored?].
Again, though, it remains a mystery how best to use Nir Bitton. Utilised as both a central midfielder and a centre-back for Israel during his time with the national team, he seems best-placed in their defence.
Celtic stars Kyogo and Tom Rogic get through international break unscathed
One of the more anxiety-inducing sub-plots of international break, Kyogo faced Tom Rogic in the second of each players’ outings this international break.
They were coming off contrasting results. Kyogo played just over half an hour of Japan’s loss to Saudi Arabia, while Rogic had starred in a 3-1 win over Oman.
Yet, it was Kyogo’s Japan who won the battle. The Japanese sensation put pressure on late to force Australia’s Aziz Behic into an own goal, following a shot from Takuma Asano.
From a Celtic perspective? Kyogo didn’t play more than an hour all-in. Rogic, meanwhile, played 81 minutes in the game against Japan, and just over an hour against Oman. He might be too tired to face Motherwell, when you include travel.
Albian Ajeti, Carl Starfelt, Liam Scales and Conor Hazard
A Swiss reprieve looked like a perfect chance for Albian Ajeti to gain some form and confidence. For Carl Starfelt, a chance to silence some doubters. Liam Scales could’ve added to his burgeoning reputation, while Conor Hazard might’ve given Ange Postecoglou something to think about with some big performances.
Ultimately, none of the above played. Hazard sat out Northern Ireland’s losses to Bulgaria and Switzerland. Albian Ajeti also didn’t feature in the latter, nor did he play against Lithuania.
Still, all of these players are young and talented enough to receive minutes in the future. And as long as they’re involved in squads, learning from teammates and coaches, it’s never truly a wasted experience.