How Celtic will deal with centre-back injury pile-up

Celtic have been plagued by injuries in recent weeks, leading to the emergency signing of Nat Phillips before the transfer window slammed shut.

The options at centre-back have been looking threadbare, with Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Welsh all on the treatment table. Their injury layoffs have already spanned the trip to Ibrox and will also affect the starting lineup for the start of our Champions League group stage.

The recent spate of injuries left Celtic with just two fit first-team centre-backs for the first derby of the season, but that situation resulted in the re-emergence of Liam Scales.

With all things considered, how will Celtic navigate their way through a tough few weeks and a short supply of centre-backs?

Time for Lagerbielke to step up

A Celtic State of Mind has previously headlined three players who can step up in the face of Celtic’s ongoing injury crisis. Gustaf Lagerbielke was one of them and with the timeframe on Carter-Vickers and Nawrocki’s absence now having been revealed, there is going to be a lot more responsibility placed upon Lagerbielke’s shoulders to hit the ground running.

The Swede was mid-way through the Swedish Allsvenskan campaign and match sharpness hasn’t been an issue for the 23-year-old. The only issue will be the transition from Elfsborg to Celtic and with starting minutes all but guaranteed for the next few weeks, Lagerbielke can potentially solidify himself as a nailed-on starter for Celtic.

Lagerbielke has come through his first three games relatively unscathed, and will learn from his first Glasgow Derby experience.

Can Iwata stand-in?

Despite many seeing him as a defensive-midfielder, Tomoki Iwata has played the majority of the games in his club career as a centre-back.

Iwata can create a dynamic with Lagerbielke similar to the one enjoyed by Starfelt and Carter-Vickers, whereby the Japanese international could handle a lot of the man-to-man defending with Lagerbielke handling the aerial duels.

Even with the injury crisis, however, Iwata has not been given the nod by Brendan Rodgers. Indeed, Kobayashi even made the bench ahead of him against Rangers.

Signing an emergency centre-back

Nat Phillips came in from Liverpool to shore up the defence, and was given a good review by John Gibbons of The Anfield Wrap when he appeared on ACSOM last week.

Although it seems as though Phillips will only be in the building until January, he will provide some much-needed experience in that area until Cameron Carter-Vickers is fully fit.

Enter Liam Scales

With Rodgers not fancying Iwata at centre-half, and with Nat Phillips not yet sharp enough to start against Rangers, Liam Scales was given the starting berth alongside Gustaf Lagerbielke.

What unfolded was Scales having the game of his life, playing like a “warrior” according to gaffer Brendan Rodgers.

This is a timely reminder that we are often too quick to write-off players. Scales stuck to his task and put in a man-of-the-match performance.

Whether he is able to maintain this standard is something that will become clear in the fullness of time, but he has certainly proven a lot of detractors wrong with his Ibrox show.


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