THE wisdom of Celtic taking a mid-season break to play in a tournament in Gran Canaria was thrown into doubt yesterday as both Scott Brown and John Guidetti sustained knocks during a 1-0 defeat by PSV Eindhoven.
While the cut to the head that forced Brown off after just three minutes is unlikely to have lasting repercussions, the fact that Guidetti hobbled off in the second half holding his thigh will be of concern to fans, despite manager Ronny Deila insisting that his side “came through it without big injuries”.
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As Aberdeen stretched their lead at the top of the Premiership to four points with a win over St Mirren, Deila’s men lost out to a Memphis Depay goal in Celtic’s first Maspalomas Cup game, despite dominating much of the second period.
Deila made four changes from the team that beat Kilmarnock last week, giving run-outs to Lukasz Zaluska, Darnell Fisher, Callum McGregor and Guidetti. But the manager’s plans were disrupted when Brown took a boot to the face and left the field bleeding from the forehead.
“It was just a cut,” said Deila afterwards. “A couple of stitches and hopefully he’ll be back next weekend.” Brown was replaced by Aleksandar Tonev, currently serving a seven-match ban in Scotland. He got involved immediately, forcing PSV keeper Remko Pasveer into a save with a long-range shot.
Depay broke the deadlock after 32 minutes, Jurgen Locadia beating Emilio Izaguirre on the right and when Virgil van Dijk failed to clear the danger, Depay swept the ball home from close range.
Celtic improved in the second half, with substitute Leigh Griffiths looking lively and youngsters Fisher, Liam Henderson, Aidan Nisbet and Joe Thomson all performing well. It was Thomson who replaced a jaded Guidetti in the second half, the Swede having failed to click with a quiet Stefan Scepovic.
Both could perhaps benefit from the creative input of Shaun Maloney, who Deila last week hinted would be welcomed back to Celtic Park for a third stint as Wigan look to cash in before the Scot’s contract expires.
The manager later praised his new boys, including midfielder Jamie Lindsay. Deila said: “Aidan and Joe made their debuts and Jamie Lindsay also got some minutes. It’s good for them to have done that and, hopefully, they’ll get motivation from having that chance.”
Celtic face Sparta Prague in Gran Canaria on Tuesday before returning to domestic league action at Hamilton on Saturday.
• Celtic striker Amido Balde has gone on loan to Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv, after spending the first half of the season on loan with Belgian team Waasland Beveren.
Celtic: Zaluska; Fisher, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown (Tonev 3), Bitton (Lindsay 81); McGregor (Nesbitt 72), Guidetti (75), Henderson; Scepovic (Griffiths 60). Subs not used: Fasan, O’Connell, Waters, McMullan.
PSV: Pasveer; Isimat-Mirin, Depay (Willems 45), Jozefzoon, Locadia, Guardado (Hiljemark 71), Brenet, Vloet, Ritzmaier, Koch, Paal. Subs not used: Osch, Rekik, Arias, Bruma, Maher, De Jong, Wijnaldum, Narsingh, Hiljemark.
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