Key Celtic defensive duo set to miss Betfred Cup clash with Hearts

Celtic are set to be without key defensive duo Kristoffer Ajer and Dedryck Boyata for their Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts.

Both players failed to finish the club’s 1-0 win over St Johnstone on Wednesday night to set up the tie with Craig Levein’s men who defeated Motherwell 4-2 at Tynecastle.

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Ajer limped off after 33 minutes to be replaced by Jack Hendry, while Boyata was shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language towards match official John Beaton despite the match entering stoppage time and being warned that he could be sent off.

Celtic's Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer are set to miss the Betfred Cup semi-final with Hearts. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy

The sending off definitely rules the Belgian out of the match with Hearts as he serves a one-match suspension in the competition.

The hamstring injury to Ajer is still to be assessed but Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers fears he could be out for up to six weeks.

Rodgers told CelticTV: “We will see in the next day or two how long that is going to be but could be four-to-six weeks.”

The date - and location - of the semi-final is yet to be decided due to Celtic and Rangers’ involvement in the Europa League prior to the weekend of the 27 and 28 October when they games were originally scheduled.

If the player is out for four weeks he will be touch-and-go for the game, any longer and he will definitely miss it.

It adds to Celtic’s defensive woes with Jozo Simunovic and Filip Benkovic currently out injured. The latter, a loan signing from Leicester City, has an issue with his Achilles. Therefore Celtic could be left with Hendry and the seldom-seen Marvin Compper as the club’s centre-back options against Hearts.

It would be a boost to the Tynecastle side who have already hit 29 goals this season, while not team has had more shots in the Scottish Premiership this season than Hearts.

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