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Celtic will not risk Callum McGregor ahead of Rangers showdown

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Mar 2024

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Celtic captain Callum McGregor has a “very good chance” of facing Rangers but will not be risked on Livingston’s artificial surface.

Manager Brendan Rodgers will delay McGregor’s comeback until after Sunday’s cinch Premiership contest at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The midfielder has been troubled by Achilles pain and has not featured since coming off at half-time during Celtic’s 7-1 win over Dundee on February 28.

Rodgers said: “Callum has been out on the field, but we are not risking him in this game. But he should hopefully re-join training next week.”

When asked if McGregor had a chance of facing Rangers, Rodgers replied: “Yes, a very good chance.”

Reo Hatate is set to make his return after playing only 19 minutes for Celtic since October. The Japan midfielder briefly returned from a hamstring injury at the start of the year only to suffer calf problems during the Asian Cup.

Cameron Carter-Vickers is also expected to play after being left out of the United States squad amid ongoing hamstring issues but Celtic could again be without wingers Yang Hyun-jun and Luis Palma, the latter of whom has a calf injury.

Rodgers said: “Cameron is fine, Reo Hatate is back and available in the squad, which is great news. He has worked very hard, he played a bounce game in the time off and he has built up his fitness.

“Yang has come back (from South Korea duty) with a bit of tightness so we just need to make sure that’s nothing more serious. He played two 60 minutes and a 30 minutes when he was away, so he has come back a little bit tight. We just have to check and make sure he is OK.

“Luis Palma will probably just miss out on this weekend but will hopefully be available soon.”

Rodgers admits Livingston’s artificial pitch comes into his thinking when making his team selection.

“You certainly have to consider it,” he said. “Like, for example Callum, you have to think along that route.

“There’s no doubt it comes into your thinking, especially on the back of an international break when players have been travelling.

“I think we are all hopeful in the future that we will have quality grass pitches here that the supporters can see the best possible game they can, but at this moment we play on the plastic pitch so we have to deal with that.

“Of course that means we have to think about team selection and the welfare of the player, and obviously from Callum’s perspective it’s probably too much of a risk for us.”

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