Celtic have been dealt a blow with news that influential player Reo Hatate is unlikely to play again before Christmas.
The midfielder suffered a hamstring injury during last week’s 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has now revealed that Hatate will miss the remaining group stage games, and key league matches, as he faces around two months out.
He said: “Reo, we are not 100 per cent on the exact timings, but he is certainly going to be out until after Christmas, we think, so that’s a shame.
“It’s a disappointment for him. He has had a bit of a broken start to the season and obviously this will take him over the halfway point in the league.
“So it is very frustrating for him, especially someone who really commits himself to his game and his professionalism. Everything he does, he tries to do right.
“But he is in a great place for that support, from the coaches, the manager to the medical team, the whole staff here will support him like we do with all the players. And hopefully we will get him back sooner rather than later.”
Paulo Bernardo replaced Hatate in the 0-0 draw at Hibs on Sunday and Rodgers said that the Japanese international’s absence left an opportunity for Bernardo, David Turnbull and others to stake a claim for a place in the starting line-up.
The Celtic boss insisted Hatate won’t be hurried back, and everything will be done to find a lasting solution after an injury-hit spell for the player.
“It’s just investigating everything he is doing outside of here as well as here and trying to piece it all together.
“There are also unfortunately players that, sadly, their collagen means they pick up lots of injuries and how their body is, and they can just maybe sometimes never stay fit.
“He is a guy that has come into the game late. He has done fantastic when he has been fit and available for Celtic.
“It’s just a case of trying to look deeper into everything around his development and what he is doing here and what he is doing away from here, just to see if there is anything that we can find out.
“Because ideally you want your best players available, and he is certainly one of our top players.”
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