Celtic saw their satisfaction at moving 13 points clear at the top of the Premiership table tempered by the news Leigh Griffiths looks likely to be ruled out of their Champions League showdown with Barcelona on Wednesday night.
Griffiths is struggling to recover from a hamstring injury he picked up during Scotland’s 3-0 defeat against England at Wembley in last week’s World Cup qualifier.
The striker missed out last night as Celtic ground out a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park to maintain their dominant defence of the Premiership title.
Manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that Griffiths is now a major doubt for the visit of Barcelona to Glasgow for a match crucial to Celtic’s hopes of further progress in Europe this season.
“He came back from Scotland duty and has tightness in his hamstring,” said Rodgers. “So we are just having to assess that and see how it goes over the next week or so.
“He is touch and go for Wednesday night. He felt it tighten in the last 15 minutes at Wembley when he was sprinting after the ball. He felt something then but played on so we’ll see how he gets on.
“He’s had a couple of wee niggles recently. It’s very important if you’re not playing you have to condition, train and work well so you can last. For Leigh it’s unfortunate because I felt he did well against England.
“We’ll see how it goes, if he’s not good for Wednesday then it’s ok. We have players doing very well and we’ll see how he’s doing for the weekend.”
Rodgers’ side were far from at their best last night but he was gratified nonetheless by the slender victory earned by Stuart Armstrong’s 44th-minute goal.
“We can’t be greedy,” said Rodgers. “It’s seven clean sheets in a row for us now domestically. In the first half we played very well, but we made a couple of mistakes in build-up play. Sometimes you have that.
“In the main we were slick, our movement was good, we created chances and we looked exciting going forwards. We scored the goal at the end of the first half, it was a very good finish.
“In the second half, give Kilmarnock credit, they threw it all at us. Lee Clark’s team did him proud. We didn’t have as many sequences in possession and it led to us playing on the counter.
“We then had chances to finish but couldn’t quite get the final pass. But I think we can see the solidity of the team which we’ve been building. After a two week international break, it was a brilliant result.”
Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark felt his team were worthy of a point from the match but took pride from their improvement in comparison to their 6-1 defeat at Celtic Park in September. “The game plan worked defensively and we stayed in the match,” said Clark. “In the second half, we grew into it as an attacking team and were the team on the front foot. It was Celtic who were hitting us on the counter-attack.
“I think the efforts of the players deserved more. But on the other hand, you could say we lacked that wee bit of quality in the final third. That is the most difficult bit, the final pass or an attempt at goal. Overall, though, I couldn’t ask for any more of the players tonight. I thought they were terrific.”