Minutes after a 4-1 rout of AIK Stockholm secured a place in Friday’s Monte Carlo draw for the group stage where they could face Manchester United or Arsenal Neil Lennon was facing up to an Ibrox injury crisis.
Kristoffer Ajer limped from the Friend’s Arena with a groin injury after 14 minutes while right back Hatem Abd Elhamed faces two weeks on the sidelines with a hairline fracture.
Odsonne Edouard insists he will be fit for the Old Firm derby despite an injury scare
The Celtic striker went down in the Europa League play-off away against AIK Stockholm
With new loan signing Moritz Bauer poised for an Old Firm baptism of fire, Edouard allayed fears over his ability to lead the line after cramping up after 70 minutes.
‘It’s okay,’ said the Frenchman, ‘it’s no problem. I will be 100 percent for Sunday.’ Injury worries were the only negative from a night of flowing attacking football, James Forrest producing a man of the match display to open the scoring, before Mikey Johnston added a second before half-time.
New £7million signing Christopher Jullien and substitute Lewis Morgan scored their first goals for the club in the final minutes as Celtic progressed on an emphatic 6-1 aggregate.
‘We will assess how Kris is for Sunday but he will be doubtful,’ Lennon admitted. ‘Odsonne came off with cramp so he should be absolutely fine, which is good news for us because he’s such an important player.
Edouard quickly quashed fears he will miss the derby with Rangers as he says he will be fit
‘Ajer is a groin strain. He was just feeling it when he was running and he’s the type of player who won’t come off easily. He was worrying about it deteriorating. We will assess him tomorrow and on Saturday because again he is such a huge presence on the pitch.’
Asked if he could strengthen his squad before the window closes on Monday the Parkhead boss was guarded in his response.
‘Hopefully, hopefully. We have Moritz Bauer in now and he may come into contention for Ibrox with Kristoffer struggling. Hatem we will have to assess, but he has been very sore with a slight hairline fracture.
‘We have to assess him but sometimes it can take a couple of weeks to recover from something like that. We will look to add before the window shuts and hopefully move a couple of players out as well.’
Asked if he could have reinforcements before facing Rangers on Sunday he added: ‘Possibly, possibly. I couldn’t tell you, I will have to speak with the big man (Lawwell) after here and I’m sure he will be delighted with everything so far.’ Delighted with the performance of his team Lennon believes a place in the last 32 of the competition is far from impossible.
‘Absolutely I think we can get through the group. I think there is more to come from this team.
‘First of all I’m really proud of the team I thought it was an outstanding team performance. To score four goals away in Europe against a champion team is no mean feat but we looked very powerful. Some of our football was breathtaking going forward.
Neil Lennon is seeing injuries mount and will be relieved that Edouard’s knock was not serious
‘I thought James (Forrest) was unbelievable tonight, in every aspect of his game whether it be off the ball or on the ball. It was such a class, quality performance and he was backed up by Christie, Edouard and Johnston. I’m delighted for Lewis Morgan as well.
‘I’m so proud of that and psychologically we’re in a good place. I’ve been saying for a while that we have the makings of a good team and we’ve gone out and shown that again tonight.’
Lennon played down reports in Romania of a £3million move for Cluj strike Bilel Omrani Dismissing suggestions in the Italian press Lazio could still move for Edouard he added: ‘We don’t want him to go, you can see we have the makings of a very good team and it’s important to keep your kingpins and he is certainly one of them.’
Celtic, meanwhile, blamed pyrotechnics and violence in the away section of the ground before the game and at half-time on rogue Hammarby fans.
Facing the potential for another UEFA punishment when up to eight flares were ignited before kick-off and punches were exchanged between stewards, police and supporters a club statement claimed: ‘Celtic were concerned that AIK sold to locals in their section. It was clear many Hammarby fans were in the Celtic sections and this was raised by Celtic officials before the match.
‘A lot of Swedish fans managed to infiltrate the away section which we believe was a major factor in the issues which arose, there was a lack of control at the access points to the Celtic section.’
Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7408923/Edouard-ready-lead-line-Celtic-Old-Firm-derby-against-Rangers-despite-injury-scare.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490