SPL

Celtic’s Daizen Maeda set for spell on sidelines with hamstring injury

By Sports Desk April 12, 2024

Celtic could be without Daizen Maeda during the title run-in after the Japan international suffered a hamstring injury.

The wide player will miss Saturday’s cinch Premiership contest with St Mirren while Celtic assess the extent of the damage.

Rodgers said: “He picked up an injury high up in his hamstring, his tendon, so we will have to see what that looks like in the coming weeks. But he is certainly not available for the weekend.

“We will see where it goes in the next week or so and then we will understand better what inclusion he will have between now and the end of the season.

“Liam Scales has picked up a slight strain in his abductor so the likelihood is that he won’t be involved.”

With Luis Palma fully fit after a calf problem and Nicolas Kuhn settling in, Rodgers played down the potential loss of Maeda.

“He has done fantastic for us and was very, very good last weekend,” he said. “But if it is to be, and he is out, there will be an opportunity there for someone else to come into the game.

“What he brings, the intensity and pressing, of course that’s big for us. But it’s an opportunity for other players to step up and bring that level of intensity and bring their individual brilliance to the game.

“It’s not something you can dwell on too much. We have had a lot of key players out this year but you still have to continue, and I’m liking what I see of the team just now, the focus and energy, the quality we are showing.”

Callum McGregor returned off the bench in last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Rangers but Rodgers warned his captain’s Achilles issue will still need to be monitored carefully.

“He has come through well,” the former Liverpool manager said. “We are still clearly managing him.

“He did absolutely incredible to be available for the game. The timeline was beyond Rangers. But he worked so hard, he wanted to put himself out there.

“He had only trained a few days coming into the game, so this week has been another good week for him. We just have to manage it, he is not out the woods at all.

“But seeing him in training earlier, he looked really good. But it’s also recognising that he had been out quite a long time and, no matter who you are, if you’ve missed five-odd weeks of training, you are not obviously going to be at your best level of football fitness-wise.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers expressed hope that Mikey Johnston can replicate his West Brom form when his loan spell at the Baggies ends.

The 24-year-old winger has collected the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award after hitting four goals in five games in March.

“What he has demonstrated is no surprise,” Rodgers said. “He is one of the best talents to come out of this academy, he is quick, direct, can score goals.

“So for him to get that award – there’s some outstanding players in the Championship – shows you how well he has done.

“Hopefully he can continue with that and come back to Celtic in the summer and feel really energised again, full of confidence, and be ready to make an impact.”

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