Celtic earned a comfortable 2-0 win over Hibernian on Wednesday night.
Michael Stewart has told BBC Sportscene that Celtic’s left-back area is a concern for Brendan Rodgers after Emilio Izaguirre was injured during Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Hibernian – and Stewart also criticised Jozo Simunovic.
Hibs defender Darnell Johnson overran the ball on the wing, and he flew studs up into a 50-50 with Izaguirre. landing on the veteran Honduras international’s leg. He was stretchered off, adding to Celtic’s mounting injury woes.
James Forrest, Tony Ralston, Kieran Tierney, Filip Benkovic, Tom Rogic, Eboue Kouassi, Odsonne Edouard and Daniel Arzani are all injured, while Olivier Ntcham has returned to training. More so are expected to do just that soon.
But Stewart raised the concern that with Valencia coming to town in a week, Rodgers’ returning players will be lacking in match sharpness and the left-back area is now a worry. He also described Simunovic’s display as “wayward”.
“With Valencia coming up next week, there’s a number of players that are starting to drift back into training,” Stewart said. “But they’re not going to be match fit. If Izaguirre is not playing, then left-back becomes a bit of a concern.
“Tierney is back in training, but he won’t have any match fitness. But he might have to be risked. So there’s some conundrums for Brendan Rodgers. Defensively, Simunovic back in the side – he looked a little bit wayward.”
Though Celtic did keep their fifth consecutive clean sheet in the Scottish Premiership – which has also resulted in five wins – Simunovic was particularly dodgy at the back. A number of times, he left the ball bounce, allowing Hibs in.
Dedryck Boyata returned to the side alongside the colossal Croat, but it remains to be seen if Simunovic will remain in the side when Kristoffer Ajer returns from suspension and indeed Benkovic from his injury.
Celtic take on Valencia on February 14, with the Spanish side in decent form of late having won four of their last six games – including a 2-2 draw against Barcelona. Simunovic, who cost £3million (Mail) from Dinamo Zagreb, may have to start.