Celtic manager Neil Lennon stepped up his preparations for next weekend’s derby clash against Rangers at the tail-end of last week, organising a closed door bounce game against Greenock Morton at Lennoxtown.
It was, in part, thought to be organised to give Tom Rogic some game time ahead of the fixture but as reported by The Scottish Sun he was entirely absent, raising concerns he may not be fit for the Celtic Park encounter.
Of course there is absolutely no point in risking a re-occurrence of his recent injury and he will have been left out for very good reasons, but perhaps it’s a sign he isn’t quite as close to first-team return as initially thought when Neil Lennon commented on his potential availability for the derby last week.
The manager had previously highlighted Friday’s training game as an opportunity for the Australian to get minutes in his legs.
Given he last played for the club way back in December, he clearly needs the chance to build his match fitness.
The hope of fans will be that leaving him out was simply a precaution and that a step up in intensity of training over the coming week will allow him to at least play some part at Celtic Park.
Rogic has a phenomenal record of destroying the Gers in recent years and he is a vital creative outlet in the middle of the park, giving the Hoops a presence in the final third that is unique in comparison to the rest of the squad.
His ability to take the ball, turn quickly and create space for himself is simply not present in any other player and could prove vital.
Supporters are counting down the days to Lennon’s next press appearance so he can clear up some of these fitness concerns with worries emerging over the international break not just about Rogic but also Kieran Tierney and Mikael Lustig.
We may be expecting to win the derby, but we’ll need our best players available to do it.