Celtic captain Scott Brown was stretchered off during his team’s 1-1 friendly draw with Rapid Vienna in Austria.
The midfielder pulled up inside the first minute after an innocuous challenge by an opponent as he controlled a bouncing ball. Brown held the back of his upper leg and had his right knee strapped into the stretcher as he was taken off. Celtic later tweeted: “The captain is still being assessed by the club’s medical staff and the extent of the injury is not yet known.”
The injury will be of major concern to new manager Ronny Deila ahead of Celtic’s Champions League qualification campaign, which begins against KR Reykjavik in Iceland on 15 July.
Celtic fought back for a draw after Virgil van Dijk headed into his own net in the seventh minute following a free kick. Substitute Teemu Pukki levelled with 20 minutes left after converting a Leigh Griffiths cross at the second attempt.
Meanwhile, Celtic have reportedly made a move for a youngster dubbed the “Iraqi Messi”, according to his club in Dubai. Al-Ahli say they are considering an offer for midfielder Humam Tariq, 18, who became the youngest ever Iraq international and already has 15 caps.
Tariq came to prominence last year after an excellent showing in the Under 20 World Cup, where he helped Iraq to the semi-finals and gained his nickname. That alerted several clubs in Europe to his potential, and Deila appears to have made the first move. Al-Ahli’s Romanian manager Cosmin Olaroiu said: “We have received a formal offer from Celtic. We travel to a training camp in Germany this month. During that time, we will sit down and assess Humam’s situation and decide whether we will accept the offer from the Scottish club.”
It also emerged yesterday that former Celtic manager Neil Lennon once tried to sign Colombian World Cup sensation James Rodriguez – only to be put off by the £15 million price tag.
Lennon first came across the hugely talented Monaco playmaker as a teenager during a youth tournament in 2011 when the 22-year-old was with Porto. In his Sunday newspaper column, Lennon said: “James Rodriguez has lit up the World Cup. But he could have been starring for Celtic after we looked into signing him three years ago while I was manager. I first came across Rodriguez during the 2011 Toulon tournament in France when I was over there looking at possible signing targets for Celtic. Rodriguez was without doubt the pick of the bunch. I obviously liked what I saw in him, so we inquired about him. He was just 19 at the time. So, when we were quoted £15 million to sign him from Porto, you will understand why it didn’t get past first base.”