Neil Lennon says James Forrest is a serious doubt for Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel next week.
The winger was taken off during the first half of Celtic’s 1-0 win over FC Riga on Thursday night and has been given a preliminary diagnosis of bone bruising on the ankle.
Forrest scored a hat-trick against Israel just short of two years ago when Scotland sealed their play-off place under Alex McLeish.
He was, however, a lot quieter in the more recent meeting between the countries earlier this month, when Scotland were held 1-1 at home by their familiar foes in a Nations League fixture.
But Forrest's likely absence is an undoubted blow to Steve Clarke as he prepares for an unprecedented run of three competitive home matches in seven days.
Scotland host Slovakia and Czech Republic in the Nations League following the crucial clash with Israel on Thursday week.
Lennon confirmed Forrest will miss today’s clash with Hibs at Celtic Park. Asked if he believed the player was now a serious doubt to join up with the Scotland squad, with Clarke scheduled to name his squad early this week, the Celtic manager said: “Yes, I do.”
Lennon added: “We'll just have to wait and see how it reacts and settles. From my own knowledge of it, it can take a few weeks to settle down. He was in a lot of pain when he came off.
“He’s got bone bruising on his ankle which can be very sore, tender and uncomfortable. I haven’t got a definitive answer on him but he’s definitely out for Sunday, put it that way.”
If the injury is confirmed as being as bad as feared, Forrest will also miss the Europa League play-off round clash with FK Sarajevo on Thursday night as well as next Sunday’s league clash at St Johnstone, which has been rescheduled from Friday night due to Celtic’s European commitments.
It is one of two games taking place that day after the SPFL had sought to clear the weekend to aid Scotland’s efforts against Israel.
Lennon cannot afford to feel any sympathy for Clarke, who will hope Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor emerge unscathed. Rangers play Ross County the same afternoon.
Lennon is simply desperate to avoid a fixture backlog that could hamper his side’s efforts to secure ten-in-a-row.
“I was always under the assumption that the game would be played before the international break and we want that,” he said.
“We don’t want any more backlogs, we’ve already got one game to complete against Aberdeen. We don’t want a fixture backlog later on down the line.
“While it’s a quick turnaround, we want the game to be played and then the players who aren’t on international duty can get some much-needed R and R.”
Celtic’s match against Aberdeen was postponed after both clubs breached coronvirus protocols. The Parkhead side's defender Boli Bolingoli went on an unauthorised trip to Spain and returned to play against Kilmarnock without undergoing a period of quarantine.