Ange Postecoglou says he won’t rest or protect Celtic’s World Cup players in the two remaining Premiership fixtures before Qatar 2022 – and will make his selection decisions the same way he has all season.
Daizen Maeda had already been confirmed as part of Japan’s squad for the finals but Aaron Mooy was named in the Australian party on Tuesday.
The midfielder might not be the last to be selected for Qatar with Cameron Carter-Vickers waiting to learn if he has made the cut for USA, while Jota is in Portugal’s preliminary squad and Josip Juranovic could get a Croatia call.
With the tournament less than a fortnight away, the hopefuls will be fearful of any injury wrecking their World Cup dream but Postecoglou won’t be wrapping them in cotton wool, or picking anyone specifically to bolster their chances of playing for their country.
“Our main focus is still us and trying to maintain a level of performance while making sure we don’t over-burden any players,” he said.
“For the most part we have done that. There are two or three who have probably played more than others but for the most part we have rotated the squad with performance in mind. It’s no different for these last two games.
“I will pick a team that I think will get the job done for us and gives us the best chance of success and it will be the same on the weekend.
“You obviously hope the guys who are going away come through unscathed but it’s one of these things in football, you could try and protect players from anything happening but it could happen in the first training session for their country.
“It’s better that we just go about our business as normal as possible. The aim for the players themselves, they would much rather go out and play football and feel good about themselves than go a couple of weeks without playing.”
Celtic are hoping to go into the break with wins against Motherwell and Ross County under their belt and after a busy stretch of fixtures, Postecoglou want the players to “finish it off” with six points, starting with victory at Fir Park on Wednesday.
“We need to get through the next two games nice and strong,” he said. “We’ve had a really solid block of games.
“Champions League results aside our performances have been really strong through that and our league form has been excellent.
“My gut tells me it’s probably a good time for the break because we’ve had just so much football in a short space of time.
“As much as the players have got through this period, there’s always a tipping point – not just physically but mentally.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country