Rangers’ opponents Celtic have received an apparent double boost ahead of Saturday’s Old Firm at Parkhead.
Multiple Hoops players have been doubts in the lead-up to the game and Neil Lennon confirmed on Friday that both Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed will miss the derby after their respective positive tests.
🎙️ #CelticFC manager Neil Lennon is next to speak to the media from Lennoxtown:
"Nir and Hatem haven't come back, obviously. Edouard is back today and all the other internationals are fit and well. They've played in the past week so they'll be fit and ready." #CELRAN pic.twitter.com/xgj7iO6xeK
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) October 16, 2020
However, Albian Ajeti has recovered from a muscle injury and is fit to play, while Odsonne Edouard returned to Lennoxtown on Friday after observing an isolation period.
Ryan Christie hasn’t yet been officially ruled out of the match either, despite reports last week claiming that he would have to isolate for 14 days from 6 October after Scotland teammate and close contact Stuart Armstrong returned a positive test [Sky Sports].
Arsenal are hopeful that Kieran Tierney, who was told to self-isolate at the same time as Christie, will be available for their trip to Manchester City on Saturday [Daily Mail] and Lennon continues to hold similar hopes for his own player [Celtic FC Twitter].
If the 25-year-old is cleared to play, the Hoops won’t be anywhere near as understrength as predicted, although questions remain as to whether he or Edouard would be fit enough to start after over a week away from the training pitch.
Rangers have their own availability issues with Steven Gerrard all but ruling both Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe out of the fixture [Rangers FC Twitter], while new signing Bongani Zungu is set to miss at least the next three Gers matches as he quarantines after arriving from France.
Therefore, despite all the coverage suggesting that Celtic would be at a considerable disadvantage heading into the first Old Firm of 2020, the two teams could have a similar number of players sidelined.
Ahead of the game, check out our Preview Video over on the Rangers News YouTube channel.