The midfielder was left distressed as he received treatment on the pitch in the 27th minute of the Hampden decider, before television images captured him in floods of tears as he sat on the bench after being replaced by Nir Bitton. Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou put the strain sustained down to fatigue, stating the 22-year-old had “suffered from the amount of games we are playing at the moment … we have suffered because we have not been able to rotate”. Now, it has emerged that Turnbull’s suffering may not be short-term with the injury understood to be of sufficient severity to require an extended period on the sidelines.
The minimum two-month timescale would count Turnbull out of the rescheduled table-topping hosting of Rangers for Postecoglou’s side on February 2, and the Conference League encounters to determine the full line-up for the last 16 stage of the new competition. These will see Celtic entertain Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt on February 17, before contesting the Scandinavian return leg a week later.
Only seven players in world football had played more competitive minutes than Turnbull when he was sidelined at Hampden. At that stage, the £3.5million signing from Motherwell in the summer of 2020 was the only member of Celtic’s squad to have featured in every one of the 34 competitive games the club had then played. A run that claimed him nine goals and seven assists and resulted in him packing in 2,840 minutes on the pitch since July.
Postecoglou has leaned heavily on Tom Rogic and Turnbull for his team’s creativity core. He will hope the reinforcements planned for the January transfer window can offset the loss of one of his integral performers for a testing run of fixtures. A sequence that, before the end of February, will take Celtic to Tynecastle, Fir Park, Pittodrie and Easter Road, in addition to a pivotal derby and European and Scottish Cup assignments.