Rangers could benefit after Ange Postecoglou confirmed a major injury blow for Celtic.
Both Old Firm clubs are in strong form right now, with Rangers winning Gio van Bronckhorst’s first four matches in charge and the Hoops winning their last four in the league.
However, while Rangers’ injury problems are easing with Ryan Jack building up match fitness and both Leon Balogun and Filip Helander closing in on returns, there are a number of fresh issues at Parkhead.
Stephen Welsh and Anthony Ralston recently picked up knocks and while neither player is expected to be out for long, influential winger Jota is facing a more extended spell on the sidelines.
Postecoglou confirmed on Sunday that the Portuguese is expected to ‘miss a few weeks’ with a hamstring injury [Daily Record].
Given that Celtic have some tricky fixtures coming up, including the League Cup final and trips to Ross County, St Mirren and St Johnstone, it’s a big blow that could benefit Rangers.
Jota has five goals and four assists to his name already in the league this season, so it will be a big test of Celtic’s squad depth to replace his creativity and goal-scoring ability during the festive period and continue their winning run.
Given that it’s imperative not to take risks with hamstring injuries – as Bears saw with Rangers’ cautious approach to Ryan Kent’s similar issue earlier this season – there’s also a chance that Jota will miss the second Old Firm of the season on 2 January.
He only arrived at Celtic Park on loan from Benfica after Rangers triumphed in the first 2021/22 meeting between the two sides in August and although the Gers defence would back themselves to keep him quiet, the Hoops would undoubtedly be weaker if he was unavailable.