Kayal injury adds to Lennon’s woes
Neil Lennon had his worst fears confirmed ahead of Sunday's crunch game at Kilmarnock with the news that Beram Kayal is out for the rest of the season.
The Israeli midfielder (23) will require surgery on a fractured wrist sustained in Wednesday night's shock 3-2 defeat at Inverness, which handed the initiative to Rangers in the Scottish Premier League title race.
Kayal will miss the final three matches of the SPL campaign -- against Kilmarnock, Hearts and Motherwell -- and the Scottish Cup final with Motherwell at Hampden on May 21.
"Beram Kayal will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a fracture to his right wrist against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Wednesday evening," a Celtic statement read.
"The midfielder had to be stretchered off deep into the second half of the 3-2 defeat in the Highlands after colliding with Caley defender Ross Tokely.
"He now requires surgery and faces a possible two to three months of rehabilitation.
"It is a setback for the Hoops as Kayal will not be available for the final three league fixtures or the Scottish Cup final at the end of the month."
Celtic's slip-up at Inverness allowed Rangers to retain their one-point lead at the top of the table and now Lennon faces a selection headache for the trip to Ayrshire.
The Hoops manager is already without midfielder Joe Ledley, who is out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, and strikers Georgios Samaras and Anthony Stokes will serve one-game suspensions against Kilmarnock.
The former Celtic skipper admitted after the Caley game that he is considering changing his back four "after that performance" but his options are limited due to right-back Cha Du-Ri's ankle injury, with doubts over the fitness of defender Glenn Loovens.
Lennon bemoaned the loss of Kayal, saying: "He has been fantastic for us this season," while admitting he has some decisions to make ahead of Sunday.
"Suspensions might come in to play now," said Lennon.
"Samaras and Stokes (are suspended), so we will see how we are. We never expect to win games or lose games but I expected the performance (against Inverness) to be better.
"It was the first time that we had lost three goals in a game since we lost the Old Firm game in October. If there is any criticism coming, you have to be big enough to take it and come back better."
Hoops striker Daryl Murphy is bracing himself for another tough test against Killie even though Celtic won 4-0 at Rugby Park last month.
"Before the Inverness game we knew that there were four games to finish the season and none of them were going to be easy," the former Sunderland player said.
"No one was going to gift us the games or the title and it is still the case against Kilmarnock.
"They are going to be up for it. But we have to think positive and go and win the last three games. We are obviously disappointed we didn't win the game at Inverness or get a draw, which would have been a good result.
"But we really weren't at the races, even though we knew that we were going to get a tough game from them. We have three games left to turn it around. We have to win those games and whatever else happens, happens."