Dedryck Boyata is on course to return to action for Celtic in the Old Firm showdown at Ibrox on 11 March but Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths are both facing lengthier lay-offs than initially anticipated.
Belgian central defender Boyata has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury in the 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock on 3 February. The 27-year-old has now resumed light training and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers expects him to be available for the trip to face Rangers on Sunday week.
“Dedryck is looking good in his work on the training field and he will probably be back after this weekend,” said Rodgers. “That will be great news for us. He has been top class for us so it will be great if he’s back for the Rangers game.”
Rodgers will have to wait longer before he can again call upon midfielder Armstrong and striker Griffiths, however.
Armstrong has not played since having surgery on a hernia operation during the winter break, while Griffiths continues to be troubled by the calf problems which saw him last feature when he limped out of the 1-0 home win over Hibs on 27 January.
“Stuart has now stepped up the intensity of his training,” reported Rodgers. “Maybe over the course of the next couple of weeks, he could be back working with the main first team group but I think it’s probably going to be after the international break at the end of March before he can play again.
“Leigh has now seen a specialist about his calves and what-not. Of course, even when he can get back on to the training field, he needs to get fit. So that’s going to be an extended period for him, really.”
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon, midfielder Nir Bitton and winger Jonny Hayes also remain on the absentee list for Celtic. But defender Marvin Compper and on-loan winger Patrick Roberts are both fully fit again and back in Rodgers’ squad for tonight’s Premiership fixture at home against Dundee.