Dedryck Boyata may have to end holiday to cover for Simunovic

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers encourages his players from the Celtic Park touchline. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers encourages his players from the Celtic Park touchline. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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Brendan Rodgers may consider an early recall from holiday for Dedryck Boyata to plug the gap left in Celtic’s Champions League qualifying defence by Jozo Simunovic’s dismissal in last night’s 3-0 win over Alashkert.

Croatian centre half Simunovic was sent off after just 11 minutes at Celtic Park for a high challenge on Alashkert forward Jefferson De Jesus. He is now automatically suspended for the first leg of Celtic’s second qualifying round tie against Rosenborg in Glasgow next Wednesday

With German defender Marvin Compper sidelined again by fresh injury sustained in training, Celtic are short-handed at the back. Boyata is not scheduled to return to the club for another 10 days as he has a break following his participation in Belgium’s World Cup campaign.

“It gives us a problem but that’s always how it’s been for us at this stage,” said Rodgers. “Every pre-season there is always an issue with centre-halves. Marvin has a problem with his abductor, so we’ll see how that is, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll be available.

“With Boyata, I don’t know – I’ll need to asses that over the next few days. Mikael Lustig is due back next week, so that’s a possibility but we have to respect he’s also been at the World Cup with Sweden and played a long season. When he comes back he won’t be fit and it’ll take a couple of weeks to get up to speed.”

Rodgers had some sympathy with Simunovic but also suggested the player needs to be more cautious with his challenges in European ties.

“In European football it’s always difficult when your foot is that high,” added Rodgers. “I thought the referee could have kept him on the pitch and given him a warning. Because I don’t think it was intentional.

“The ball was popped back at Jozo quickly and he’s raised his boot which has caught their player. It was the same player who elbowed Kieran Tierney in the face.

“He tried to cushion the header back to his team-mate and it’s come back to him quickly. It was just an impulsive thing really, he was going for the ball. But in European football, you normally get punished for that.”

Rodgers also has a slight concern over the fitness of Moussa Dembele. The French striker scored twice last night but limped off in the second half.

“Moussa was tight at the back of his leg so we just have to assess that tomorrow and over the next couple of days,” he said.

“He’s as fit as he has been at this stage of the season, so we are hoping it is just a tightness and that he’ll be okay.”

Celtic will face familiar foes in Rosenborg, having beaten them 1-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round of the Champions League last year.

Rosenborg squeezed through 3-2 on aggregate last night against Icelandic champions Valur Reykjavik after former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner converted a 94th minute penalty.

Bendtner had earlier opened the scoring from the spot before Rosenborg, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, went in front through Anders Trondsen.

Valur appeared to have secured a dramatic victory on away goals when Kristinn Sigurdsson scored an 85th minute penalty but were left heart-broken in stoppage time.

“It’s a tie we look forward to and we have respect for any opponent we face in these ties,” added Rodgers who was unwilling to add to speculation linking left-back Tierney with a £30 million move to Juventus.

“I’ve nothing really to say on that,” said Rodgers. “He’s linked with everyone.”