Celtic can see off Hibs despite lengthy injury list, insists assistant Davies

Assistant manager Chris Davies insists Celtic have the squad to cope with the lengthy list of absentees for the Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Hibernian at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

Winger James Forrest, who scored the opener in the 2-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Sunday, is having a scan on a hamstring injury and will be out for “a period of time”, while right-back Mikael Lustig and striker Odsonne Edouard are doubts after sustaining Achilles and foot injuries respectively.

Defender Kristoffer Ajer is suspended after picking up a late red card in Perth and he joins defenders Tony Ralston, Kieran Tierney and Filip Benkovic and midfielder Tom Rogic on the sidelines.

Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani (both knee) are long term absentees, Leigh Griffiths is out of football for a period of time with personal issues while new striker Vakoun Issouf Bayo is still getting up to speed.

Midfielder Olivier Ntcham and defender Dedryck Boyata have just started back training with the squad, which Davies insists is “as stretched as it’s been” during his two-and-a-half years at the club.

He said: “We have a pretty good team of injuries and suspensions, but we have a few coming back and close to coming back.

“But we have got a depth of squad.

“We have shown that we can (cope) in the St Johnstone game itself and we can put a team out that is going to be a very good team of quality and we will be able to cope, no problem.

“Nir Bitton can play centre-half, we’ve got Jack Hendry, and Dedryck was training today so we have to look at our options, what system we want to play and make a decision.”

The Hoops are six points ahead of Rangers at the top of the table as they prepare to face Hibs, who will have interim boss Eddie May in the dugout again as they continue their search for a new manager following the departure of Neil Lennon.

“Difficult game. They have always been difficult opponent for us, home and away,” Davies added.

“Speed, intensity, they have some good players.

“So for me that is a difficult game but we have to as always focus on ourselves, our game and (if we) bring our intensity and quality to the game we should get the win.

“But I certainly wouldn’t underestimate them at all and that’s not something we would do.”

Davies confirmed that new Celtic full-back Andrew Gutman is returning to Parkhead after his proposed loan move to Nashville collapsed but will be going back out on a temporary move.

The 22-year-old and fellow American Manny Perez joined the Hoops on three-and-a-half-year contracts on January transfer window deadline day.

Celtic wanted to send the 22-year-old on loan to the United Soccer League side but Major League Soccer, which Nashville are set to join next year, blocked the deal.

Davies said: “He will be coming back here and probably be going back on loan.

“We will look at a different loan option that will suit Andrew.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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