Anton McElhone will have hands full as Celtic injury list grows

By Euan Davidson

September 24, 2021

It probably isn’t in the remit of new Celtic hire Anton McElhone to assess bad luck, or superstition.

However, the ex-Spurs fitness guru will need to have of his own luck on his side after Celtic came away with two new injury worries from last night’s win over Raith.

Giorgos Giakoumakis pulled up with a calf injury just from warming up last night. Not only that, Jota will need to be looked at over the coming days, with his ankle strapped up after last night’s win.

Greg Taylor is recovering from surgery, Kyogo went down injured on international duty, and Christopher Jullien remains out.

The Celtic boss complained he must’ve walked under a ladder, and said that “there is something looming over me at the minute, to challenge me every day” [Scotsman].

Add Mikey Johnston to the list, and you’ve got a number of players needing looked at.

Celtic 3-0 Raith Rovers | LIVE Reaction

Celtic 3-0 Raith Rovers | LIVE Reaction

For the new Head of Sports Science, his introduction won’t be a particularly easy one. It could just be bad luck, sure, but the sheer number of injuries suffered by Celtic players so early in the season is a real issue.

What’s potentially crucial to consider is that so many of the current Celtic squad didn’t actually get a pre-season with Postecoglou. That means they didn’t have time to physically prepare for the specific demands of the manager.

That could be a factor that’s going to cause injuries. Whatever the case may be, McElhone has a considerable patient load to consider.

McElhone arrives at perfect time to address Celtic injury list

It’s very possible that a lot of the Celtic squad just weren’t ready for the physical demands of Postecoglou’s game.

Considering how slow and ponderous the Bhoys were last year, and how unfit much of the team looked, it’s probably no surprise were that the case. Add in the international commitments of many Celtic players, and you have a problem.

A problem that can be fixed, though. McElhone has proved himself to be a pivotal figure at prior clubs. Especially when it comes to building the fitness of his players. According to Bradford City website Width of a Post:

“During his time at both New England and Tottenham he tasked the players with a maximum body fat percentage of ten percent, to be tested once every three weeks. When he started at New England barely 20% of the team could fit this classification; by six months in that number was up to 75%.”

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

At Spurs, he was able to keep a number of top players fit despite a number of commitments. Harry Kane, a player who’s particularly injury-prone, played some of his most consistent football with McElhone in the Spurs set-up [Transfermarkt].

None of this is to say he’s some miracle healer. But given the exertions of the Spurs team under Pochettino, McElhone’s reputation for keeping players equipped, and actually improving their fitness, bodes well for the future.

In the present, however? McElhone won’t get an easy start to life at Celtic, that’s for sure.

In other news: Celtic fans mightily impressed by Liam Scales debut