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No Starfelt transfer drama but Rodgers hit by injury blows to Nawrocki and Kobayashi

A week before the star of the season Celtic have been hit with something of an injury crisis in central defence.

Alarm bells were heard among supporters when the team for today’s friendly against Wolves was announced with Stephen Welsh and Liam Scales as the central defensive partnership.

Cameron Carter-Vickers wasn’t expected to play as he continues his rehab from knee surgery while new signing Maik Nawrocki has yet to take part in training since his move from Legia Warsaw.

Carl Starfelt’s omission from the side sparked some suggestions that he was the subject of a transfer bid. With his partner Jacynta moving to Sporting Lisbon earlier this month the more imaginative fans have been looking at signs of the Swede also being on the move.

Celtic365 understands that there was a more straightforward reason for Starfelt’s absence with the player bursting a blood vessel in training. No chances were being taken but the injury shouldn’t keep him out long term.

There is bad news on Nawrocki however with the Polish u-21 cap expected to be out of action for four weeks which means that he will have to go through a second pre-season build up.

That time period certainly rules him out of the August 13 trip to Aberdeen with the match at Ibrox on September 2 looking touch and go.

Yuki Kobayashi is facing a further six weeks out after suffering an ankle injury away to Yokohama F Marinos with the former Vissel Kobe man facing an uphill task to find a way back into the first team plans.

Celtic will monitor the fitness of Carter-Vickers very closely in the coming week but will be anxious not to push his come back too early.

Welsh and Scales didn’t do themselves any harm today with transfer talk on those two shelved for now as Rodgers waits on progress on three central defenders currently unavailable.

With Alistair Johnston and Tony Ralston not featuring in the three public pre-season matches Rodgers has been denied the opportunity to work on any understanding at the back.

Celtic seem relatively injury free elsewhere in the park but the defence will be a worry, thankfully it is just one match a week until the middle of September.

Kyogo Furuhashi opened the scoring against Wolves with a great strike in the fifth minute from a Liel Abada lay-off but the English side equalised in the 85th minute with the softest on penalties.

Matt Doherty went down dramatically after going past Joe Hart with the local referee pointing to the penalty spot with Matheus Cunha netting as the majority of the 28,000 fans in the Aviva Stadium jeered.

On Tuesday Celtic complete their pre-season preparations with a match at home to Athletic Club Bilbao in a testimonial match for James Forrest.

After the match the Daily Record reports Rodgers saying: “It always feels like a loss whenever you concede late on but the workout was perfect for us, I thought we had some spells of fantastic football and defending well against a good side and good players. It was the perfect type of game that we needed. The game gets a bit broken when you make changes, you lose that fluency and rhythm in the game.

“In the second half we gave the ball away too much so we have to be better in that aspect, but overall we’re really pleased. It was a great exercise for us against a good side. It’s important for any team of mine to impose and initiate the game as high up as we can, and we’ve got guys that are willing to work, to run. It was a great finish from Kyogo but it was a really good exercise.

“We need to build again on the fitness, the team is placed well but there’s certain phases of the game we can improve. In the build up we were good, but Tuesday will play two 45-minute teams to get minutes in the legs – and that will be our final preparation before the season starts.

CELTIC: Hart, Iwata, Welsh (McPherson 67), Scales, Taylor, McGregor, O’Riley (Kwon 60), Hatate (Holm 70), Abada (Haksabanovic 70), Maeda (Oh 70), Kyogo (Yang 60).

Subs: Bain, Siegrist, Turnbull, Bernabei, Lawal, Forrest.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Jose Sa, Lemina (Silva 79), Neto (Hwang 70), Cunha, Dawson (Esen 70), Bueno Lopez (Ait-Nouri 46), Sarabia (T. Gomes 70), Sememdo (Doherty 79), Kilman, Nunes, Hodge.

Subs: Traore, Gomes, Kalajdzic, Castro Otto, Bentley, King, Fraser, Pond, Farmer.

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