Ange Postecoglou has fired a warning to the rest of the Scottish Premiership as he insisted the best is still to come from his Celtic team despite a thumping win over St Johnstone.
Saturday’s 7-0 victory at Celtic Park put the league leaders nine points, and a mammoth 24 goals, clear of second placed Rangers.
Goals from Reo Hatate, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda had the points secure by half-time before a Josip Juranovic penalty, Matt O’Riley double and Liel Abada strike completed the rout as Kyogo Furuhashi also made a return to injury.
Giakoumakis, who was named the Premiership player of the month for March, was taken off with an injury shortly after scoring his goal in the 20th minute but Postecoglou said his squad is healthier than even and can get even better.
The Australian, who revealed Giakoumakis had tweaked his hamstring and would be assessed ahead of next week’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden, said: “That’s been our mantra all year, to be better than the week before.
“That is what we have been building towards.
“Obviously Giakoumakis got the injury today, but James Forrest should be back next week and we have the healthiest squad we have had all year.
“We have a lot of contributors, which mean our training levels are at the best they have been all year.
“We are getting some good weeks into training because there are no midweek games, so those things are in our favour in terms of hopefully producing our best football.
“But it’s not like they just roll out there and it just happens. They worked their socks off today.
“When we didn’t have the ball we were determined to get it back. When we do that we have the quality in the team to blow teams away like we did today.”
Postecoglou welcomed back Furuhashi, who was given a huge cheer when he came on for Jota in the second half.
However, the Hoops boss is unlikely to start him against Rangers.
The former Australia manager said: “I’m pleased for him because he is a great guy and a super footballer.
“He was so important for us at the beginning of the year when we really needed somebody to step up.
“The whole group has watched him work really hard on his own in rehab, so it was great to get him back out there.
“He looked like the quality player he is and he is going to be super important for us.
“But whenever somebody is out for a significant amount of time you do have to be a bit more careful.
“I wouldn’t think we will be throwing him in next week. I doubt he’ll start next week.
“But, if we can get him some more game time in the next couple of weeks, you think he would be ready to go the last three or four games.”
Giakoumakis was replaced by Abada just after he had scored Celtic’s second goal.
Postecoglou said: “He felt a twinge in his hamstring so we won’t really know until we assess him.
“It’s disappointing. Giakoumakis has carried an enormous load for us these past few weeks and worked really hard.
“Hopefully it’s not something that keeps him out too long in the run-in.”
St Johnstone ended the day five points ahead of bottom side Dundee and boss Callum Davidson is looking for his side to rally in the five post-split games.
He said: “Of course it is bitterly disappointing. We lost some really poor goals, the second one especially, and after that it was backs against the wall.
“They brought lots of energy to the game and unfortunately we just couldn’t match them. That’s my honest assessment of the game.
“Our fight is for survival and obviously after the split and the wee break we will be ready.
“Take away today’s game and we’ve been in good form, on a winning streak.
“Today we were just beaten by the better team, it’s as simple as that. The scoreline is hard to take, I have to say that.”