Celtic have received a nice boost for tonight as Dan Petrescu confirmed that Emmanuel Culio will miss tonight’s match.
The talented playmaker picked up an injury in the previous round against Maccabi Tel-Aviv. He hasn’t played since, and his influence on the pitch was hugely missed for Cluj last week in Romania.
There were question marks over whether he would participate tonight. Club director Bogdan Mara expressed his hope that he would be fit for tonight’s return leg (DigiSport).
However, according to DigiSport, Petrescu confirmed that Culio will miss tonight’s second-leg. His absence could see the duo of Luis Aurelio and Mihai Bordeianu take to Parkhead once again. The pair featured in the first-leg against the Hoops, and failed to seriously impress over the 90 minutes.
Could Dan Petrescu be playing the ultimate mind-game with Culio’s injury?
Perhaps some may not believe Petrescu until they see the team-sheet for tonight. After all, he’s been trying his best to play as many mind-games as possible in the run-up to the second-leg.
It would perhaps be his most sly move yet if he was to confirm his star-man’s absence only to surprise Celtic and feature him tonight.
And it’s easy to believe too when you consider how much he’s been bigging Culio up in the build-up to the tie. Petrescu labeled him the club’s greatest player ever just last week (BZB). So it wouldn’t be overly surprising if he did start out of nowhere.
But in truth, it doesn’t seem likely. At 35-years-old, he’s at an age where he needs to be managed properly. Rushing him back for tonight could do him more harm. So it looks as though Celtic could head into tonight without having to combat the Argentine midfielder.
It will still be a tough match in any case. Neil Lennon will hardly be jumping for joy if Culio does indeed fail to make the team-sheet. But it should provide him some extra confidence that Cluj aren’t at full strength.
It’s set up for an exciting contest tonight, and hopefully one in which Celtic finish off a tough job.