Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised his players’ resilience after revealing further injury problems in his front line.
James Forrest has been ruled out of Wednesday’s Premiership contest with Ross County after going off injured against Motherwell on Saturday, while fellow winger Mikey Johnston is a doubt for the Dingwall trip.
Postecoglou was already missing strikers Kyogo Furuhashi, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Albian Ajeti along with winger Jota and attacking midfielder Karamoko Dembele.
Celtic’s relentless schedule is leaving little room for respite and Forrest and Furuhashi are also doubts for Sunday’s League Cup final against Hibernian with Ajeti and Jota definitely out and Giakoumakis unlikely to make it.
Postecoglou said: “The guys have been brilliant in terms of not making excuses or looking for excuses.
“Our performances in the last three months have been very, very consistent and, pleasingly, the results have followed as well.”
Postecoglou started with midfielder David Turnbull up front against Motherwell with Liel Abada on the right-wing.
His options for the left-wing include Adam Montgomery, who has also played at left-back, and Ewan Henderson, who scored last week against Real Betis on his first appearance this season.
The Australian, whose side are going for a sixth consecutive league win, said: “We lost Jota a few weeks ago and we have been OK since, we have lost Kyogo and did OK.
“It’s not ideal, you want all your best players playing and we have been hit pretty hard in one part of our set-up, unfortunately most of our injuries have come in that forward area.
“It’s testing us, for sure, but what I have seen from this group of players is that our level of performance hasn’t dropped.
“The indicators we look for, of how dominant we are, how many chances we create, even against Motherwell, that was a 1-0 scoreline, but we created some really good opportunities even though we didn’t have an ideal forward set-up.
“This group of players don’t want excuses, they want to go out there and prove they can overcome every challenge. We have had plenty of them since I got here and we will keep tackling them in the same way.
“We had challenges right from the moment I came here. Throwing guys in without training, throwing guys in who hadn’t had a pre-season, throwing guys in from the other side of the world.
“Through it all, we haven’t made excuses, we haven’t tried to make allowances, we haven’t said ‘give us time’.
“We have just got on with it and the squad keeps getting on with it, which as a manager is brilliant to see because it means I have got a really resilient, tough group of players who want to be successful.
“We are getting challenged in a different way now with injuries but I haven’t seen anything in performances to tell me that the players are wilting under any sort of stress.
“If anything, I think they are rolling up their sleeves a little bit further and digging in a little bit more and making sure we get through this period.”
Postecoglou revealed they would get more information on Forrest’s injury in the coming days while Johnston “pulled up a bit sore” after Sunday’s game, after replacing Forrest earlier than anticipated when he was not 100 per cent fit.
Furuhashi is “not far off” fitness and has been improving but Postecoglou is wary of setbacks and will continue to assess the Japan forward daily ahead of Sunday.
The cup final, however, has been pushed to the back of Postecoglou’s mind and will not affect his team selection.
“We’ve got a game to win and that’s my focus,” he said. “From my perspective, we understand the significance of the weekend game but we can’t dismiss the three points are very significant for us as well, against a pretty tough opponent away from home.
“As always, I will put out a team that I think can win the game for us and after that we will dust ourselves down and assess what’s available for us for the weekend. That sort of mentality has served us well so far.”
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