How can Celtic deal with Callum McGregor’s absence?

After the high of a 7-1 demolition of Dundee on Wednesday evening, Celtic supporters were brought back down to earth with some worrying news surrounding the fitness of Callum McGregor.

The captain wasn’t spotted in training and it now looks unlikely that McGregor will be available for the trip to Tynecastle.

Speaking on the injury, Brendan Rodgers stated that “With players like that, the guys who are always available and always playing, it’s such a new experience for them to be injured. It is one of those where all players, especially top players, want to play every game. So, you have to be mindful of it and you have to be aware of the risk.”

Rodgers mentioned following the victory over Dundee that McGregor felt his achilles at half-time and thus was replaced by Daniel Kelly from the Celtic B team.

The manager was right in saying that it is always hard to deal with injuries to players who are ever-present in this Celtic squad, with Callum McGregor almost always available and playing nearly every single minute this season.

The stakes have been raised for today’s trip to Tynecastle following Motherwell’s unexpected victory at Ibrox yesterday. With Celtic facing the prospect of going top of the cinch Premiership with a victory against Hearts this afternoon, Brendan Rodgers has to get his team selection right, but who replaces Callum McGregor?

The Likely Option: Paulo Bernardo

The Benfica loanee has been the only other available option who has been featuring regularly for Celtic over the course of this season.

Starting in numerous Champions League matches, Bernardo took a while to hit his stride but a goal at Dens Park in December seemed to spark him into life and he went on to earn a starting spot.

He lost that position a few weeks ago, but it seemed more like a tactical change rather than anything to do with Bernardo’s form, and he is the most likely option to come into the team.

The Prospect: Daniel Kelly

One thing supporters have wanted to see more of from the club is giving youth academy players a chance. Young Daniel Kelly was afforded a big opportunity mid-week as he replaced the captain at half-time.

With the team already six goals up, it would have been far too easy for the second-half to pass Kelly by, but he was eager to get involved and took his chance as he scored a well-placed finish on his so-called weaker foot.

He showcased some neat touches on the ball as well, but if the manager wishes to reward him for his impressive cameo, he could bring Kelly into the team for the game today.

The Outside Shout: Odin Thiago Holm

The Norwegian has been seen scarcely this season since signing in the summer from Valerenga.

His last appearance for the club came against Buckie Thistle in the Scottish Cup fourth round and he doesn’t look to be anywhere near the first-team, which has surprised some seeing as he hasn’t put much of a foot wrong when he has played.

His slight frame may be the only thing preventing Rodgers from trusting him more in this Celtic team.

James McKenzie // @JamesWHMcKenzie

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