Tuesday 18 December 2018

Pain for Hayes as Celtic deal with Dembele dilemma

Dundee 0 Celtic 2

Jonny Hayes acknowledges the supporters as he is carried off on a stretcher during Celtic’s match against Dundee at Dens Park. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Jonny Hayes acknowledges the supporters as he is carried off on a stretcher during Celtic’s match against Dundee at Dens Park. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Jamie Holland

Celtic's Irish winger Jonny Hayes is waiting to find out the severity of the injury that led to him being carried off on a stretcher during their victory over Dundee.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is hopeful that Hayes suffered only bruising to his shin-bone rather than a break after a robust tackle from home defender Josh Meekings, who was also unable to continue.

Michael Johnston of Celtic shoots at goal. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Michael Johnston of Celtic shoots at goal. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Rodgers had no issue with Meekings' role in the incident that could be a momentum-checker for Hayes after he finally got a run in the Hoops' side - he had scored against his former club Aberdeen last Saturday.

Hayes was injured after less than half an hour and was down for some time before he was carried off amid concerns that he may have broken a bone.

"There was nothing in it," the former Swansea and Liverpool manager said. "Two tough players and let's hope they are OK.

"I was looking directly at his (Hayes) fibula to see what state his leg was in, but it must have just been the clash of shin-pads, although he was down for a whule so it was clearly hurting him.

Leigh Griffiths of Celtic celebrates after he scores his team's second goal. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leigh Griffiths of Celtic celebrates after he scores his team's second goal. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

"The medical team tell me he will go for an X-ray and we will see where it is at, but we are hoping it is only bruising."

Dundee manager Neil McCann, whose father died last Saturday, felt his side lacked "a bit of aggression" and "bite" but stressed that Meekings' clash with Hayes was just two "committed players" coming together.

"That is a 50-50," he said. "Jonny was coming quick and was fully committed.

"I expect my centre-back to be fully committed as well, and unfortunately both players have come off injured."

James Forrest of Celtic scores the opening goal. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
James Forrest of Celtic scores the opening goal. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Rodgers had to field questions about the future of star attacker Moussa Dembele after a relatively routine success.

Christmas Day reports linked Dembele with an £18m move to Brighton when the transfer window re-opens.

But, while Rodgers insisted there was "nothing" in those reports, he accepted that it would be "morally" difficult to stop Dembele or any other player leaving the club if wages and the fee are right for all concerned.

The 21-year-old French striker started on the bench for yesterday's victory, which took the champions 11 points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table.

Dundee manager Neil McCann. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Dundee manager Neil McCann. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In-form wide-man James Forrest opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute and former Dundee striker Leigh Griffiths added a second before the break, with Dembele - who moved to Parkhead from Fulham in 2016 on a four-year deal - making a cameo appearance near the end.

Happy

Rodgers, who was happy with "a very, very good performance", was asked about Dembele after the match, and said: "I haven't been informed about anything from the club. It is all part of the modern game.

"There will be interest, of course, but there is nothing in it. We don't want to lose any players and we won't lose any players.

"However, if there is something that comes in, it goes back to that issue - morally.

"If there is something where a player can earn five times as much as what he is on now, then it is very difficult to stop him, especially if you get a fee for a player.

"But there is a lot for that to happen, there is a lot that needs to be right.

"We don't need to sell anyone - that is the idea. But what is always important at Celtic, especially when you are doing so well, you know there is always going to be interest and you have to prepare forward for the 'What if?'

"And if we do lose any of our players for what I have just said, then we hope to have some to bring in to keep the continuation."

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