CELTIC won a match, but lost one of their most versatile players in Adam Matthews, who was stretchered off 12 minutes into this contest with a suspected fractured collarbone.
Neil Lennon was awaiting confirmation last night but the fear is that Matthews will be out for three months, a spell that includes Celtic’s four remaining pool matches in the Champions League.
Lennon refused to find fault with the challenge that sparked the incident, beyond saying that Keith Lasley’s tackle warranted a Celtic penalty. The Celtic manager attached no blame to the Motherwell midfielder for the injury, despite the home support booing Lasley for the duration of the day.
“The initial fear is that Adam has fractured his collarbone,” said Lennon. “He could be out for three months. There’s no word back from the hospital as yet but if that’s the case then that puts a big negative on a great day.
“I thought it was a penalty, but it was the way he landed [that did the damage] and it could happen to anybody. I don’t apportion blame to Keith. It can happen anywhere. Adam just landed awkwardly on his hand or arm.”
Stuart McCall said he felt for Matthews. “It was a slide tackle. Keith comes across and gets ball and man at the same time and it’s unfortunate the way Adam landed. The tackle wasn’t malicious in any way.”
The Welshman was at the heart of everything in the after-match discussions. Even when Kris Commons said that he wanted Celtic to start pulling away at the top of the league and not lose another game in the SPFL this season, he quickly turned to his injured team-mate.
“It’s a massive blow for us,” he said. “He’s one of the best right-backs around and the position he’s been playing recently [right side of midfield] means he’s getting forward a lot and it was while getting forward that this happened. He had some big games coming up. Champions League and World Cup qualifiers with Wales. It’s a sore one. He’s an exceptional player.”
Confirmation of the extent of Matthews’ injury is expected later today.