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Mystery as Alistair Johnston misses out on Celtic’s training gallery

Celtic shared 22 training ground images on their official website today- none of them showed Alistair Johnston. Liel Abada was also missing.

There could be a perfectly innocent explanation for the Canadian not being included but with the current state of injuries at the club there is some cause for concern.

Last Friday Johnston and Stephen Welsh, who had just signed a contract extension, were prominent in the images released from Lennoxtown.

Welsh’s new contract, and training ground injury, were discussed by Brendan Rodgers in his preview of the match at Kilmarnock, as was conformation of Johnston’s return to training with the first team squad.

This week Rodgers spoke on the Thursday to the media, before the training gallery was published and confirmed that Johnston would be available to face St Johnstone.

Asked about injuries at Thursday’s media conference Rodgers revealed:

It’s disappointing for us in terms of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Welsh – probably about eight weeks. Welsh obviously had an operation just the other day, so he’s come through that well. For the other two, we were hopeful that they would be back sooner, but we had further scans on them and that puts them out for probably another eight weeks from now. Reo Hatate will be back in the international break, during that. Mikey Johnston will be next week. Kobayashi will be in the international break, and Oh Hyeon-gyu will return next week to training. Alistair Johnston is back, which is great news for us. He’s trained well and will be available for the weekend.

The absence could be easily explained but if there is any sort of setback it leaves Celtic badly short of options and bodies in defence.

There had been a suggestion that Johnston could play in central defence, leaving Tony Ralston at right-back which would provide an additional option alongside Gustaf Lagerbielke and Liam Scales.

Tomoki Iwata did play a few matches in central defence at the end of last season but rarely looked comfortable while Yuki Kobayashi hasn’t been involved since getting injured against Yokohama F Marinos on July 19.

Word could leak out tonight about Johnston although things should be cleared up tomorrow when the first team squad arrives at Celtic Park with the team being announced at 1.45pm.

CLICK HERE for Celtic’s training gallery and HERE for the SNS gallery.

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