Celtic blow as Maeda suffers hamstring injury amid title run-in

The forward will miss this weekend's game against St Mirren.

Celtic have suffered a blow in the Premiership title run-in with the news that Daizen Maeda has suffered a hamstring injury.

The Japan forward scored after 21-seconds in Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Rangers at Ibrox and has been a key player for the Hoops in the two years.

Brendan Rodgers says they will know the extent of the injury over the next week after he has been assessed but he will be missing for the game against St Mirren this weekend.

Liam Scales is also a doubt for Saturday’s game as Celtic look to go four points clear in the Premiership.

Maeda has been at the forefront of a three-pronged attack since being signed by Ange Postecoglou just over two years ago and has helped them lift four trophies, including a treble last season.

The champions are one point clear at the top of the league as they go in to their last six games, although second placed Rangers have a game in hand.

The top-two will meet again at Celtic Park after the split in a game that increasingly looks as though it will go a long way to deciding the destination of the league trophy.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Rodgers said: “Daizen will miss the weekend. He picked up an injury high in his hamstring, his tendon, so we will have to see what that looks like in the coming weeks. But he is certainly not available for the weekend.

“We will see where it goes in the next week or so and then we will understand better what inclusion he will have between now and the end of the season.

“Liam Scales has picked up a slight strain in his abductor so the likelihood is that he won’t be involved.”

With Luis Palma fully fit after a calf problem and Nicolas Kuhn settling in, Rodgers played down the potential loss of Maeda.

“He has done fantastic for us and was very, very good last weekend,” he said. “But if it is to be, and he is out, there will be an opportunity there for someone else to come into the game.

“What he brings, the intensity and pressing, of course that’s big for us. But it’s an opportunity for other players to step up and bring that level of intensity and bring their individual brilliance to the game.

“It’s not something you can dwell on too much. We have had a lot of key players out this year but you still have to continue, and I’m liking what I see of the team just now, the focus and energy, the quality we are showing.”

Callum McGregor returned off the bench in last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Rangers but Rodgers warned his captain’s Achilles issue will still need to be monitored carefully.

The manager said: “He has come through well, We are still clearly managing him.

“He did absolutely incredible to be available for the game. The timeline was beyond Rangers. But he worked so hard, he wanted to put himself out there.

“He had only trained a few days coming into the game, so this week has been another good week for him. We just have to manage it, he is not out the woods at all.

“But seeing him in training earlier, he looked really good. But it’s also recognising that he had been out quite a long time and, no matter who you are, if you’ve missed five-odd weeks of training, you are not obviously going to be at your best level of football fitness-wise.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers expressed hope that Mikey Johnston can replicate his West Brom form when his loan spell at the Baggies ends.

The 24-year-old winger has collected the English Championship Player of the Month award after hitting four goals in five games in March.

“What he has demonstrated is no surprise,” Rodgers said. “He is one of the best talents to come out of this academy, he is quick, direct, can score goals.

“So for him to get that award – there’s some outstanding players in the Championship – shows you how well he has done.

“Hopefully he can continue with that and come back to Celtic in the summer and feel really energised again, full of confidence, and be ready to make an impact.”

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