'I'm scared of him, last game for us': Celtic boss opens up on Cameron Carter-Vickers operation

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou joked that the menacing nature of Cameron Carter-Vickers meant he couldn’t send the centre-back for necessary surgery ahead of the Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Rangers that has placed the club on the brink of a treble.

The Australian confirmed that the USA internationalist season concluded at Hampden with a stand-out showing in the 1-0 success that will give way to the 24-year-old undergoing a knee operation for a long-standing knee problem. The defender – recruited in a £6million permanent deal last summer after spending the previous term on loan from Tottenham Hotspur – has required to battle through in recent weeks,but Postecoglou joshed the call on when to conclude his campaign remained out of his hands.

“That is his last game for us today,” said the Celtic manager. “He will get his injury looked at now and that will be him until the end of the season. He wanted to play today and I pushed for him to have it done earlier. It's hard but I'm scared of him so I just let him do what he wants. He was keen on playing today and he put in a performance that befits his standing at our football club and it's a credit to him. He hasn't put a foot wrong since we signed him. He has been outstanding and him and Carl [Starfelt] are an outstanding pair, and they really work hard together and Cameron again keeps growing as a player and a leader within the group.”

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It was largely functionality beyond Celtic’s backline against an opponent that pinned them in for spells in the second period that allowed them to navigate a path to a final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle – apart for the passage of play that led to their decisive 42nd-minute winner from Jota, Rangers players switching off as Daizen Maeda pounced to fashion a cross from which an unmarked Jota headed in. Postecoglou claimed that their telling ability to be alive in the moment, and then resilient to withstand pressure, summed up both his team, and their growth in his 22 months at the helm.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou takes the acclaim of the support after beating Rangers 1-0.Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou takes the acclaim of the support after beating Rangers 1-0.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou takes the acclaim of the support after beating Rangers 1-0.

“It’s what we do,” he said of the goal. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone. You can talk about mistakes, but we instigate mistakes because the boys are relentless in their pressure. They never switch off and then we have the quality to capitalise. We’re alert when we need to be and when the ball comes across, our winger is where he should be. That’s not by accident. We’ve been doing those things consistently and again it’s credit to the group that they maintain their discipline even in a game like today where the emotions are running high. It’s very easy to get sucked into the atmosphere, but we stayed clear-headed.

“The whole group had to dig in. Twelve months ago when we lost here [in the Scottish Cup semi-final] it was another tight game. I thought last year Rangers were a very good team and they had that resilience in them and that's why they got to a European final. They [my players] did what they needed to do to get the job done on the day. That has been our evolution as a team this season. We have developed and it is not easy to develop like that in that given time. You need to be put in that situation as often as possible. When you get to these big games with consequence you have to do what is required and that is what we did today and we have been doing that all year. It is where the team is at in terms of their progression. They understand that in the big games they need to show every facet of your game and we did that today.”