CELTIC’S Champions League adversaries, FC Astana, have suffered a huge blow with news that their captain, Tanat Nusserbayev, is out of the third qualifying round tie between the clubs.

The 29-year-old suffered a knee injury in the 2-1 second qualifying round win over Zalgiris of Lithuania last Wednesday and Astana revealed yesterday that Nusserbayev is believed to have a torn meniscus.

That is the preliminary diagnosis by the Kazakh club’s doctor but wealthy Astana have already flown Nusserbayev to Germany for further examination from a top specialist there. If the diagnosis is confirmed, Nusserbayev will undergo his operation in Germany.

The loss of the experience attacking midfielder for the tie with Celtic is a massive disappointment for Astana manager, Stanimir Stoilov. Nusserbayev played in all of Astana’s Champions League group last season, including home draws against Benfica, Galatasary and Shakhtar Donetsk and has scored 44 times for the Kazakh champions.

However, Stoilov has received a helping hand to prepare for Wednesday’s first-leg against Celtic in Astana, from their rivals for the Kazakh title, Shakhter Karagandy, who agreed to have today’s (Sat) home Kazakh league match with Astana cancelled to help their Champions League ambitions.

Shakhter, of course, met Celtic in the play-off round in August 2013 and won 2-0 at home before losing 3-0 in Glasgow. Yet, they were happy to accommodate Astana because they believe they are helping fly the flag for Kazakhstan football.

A club statement from Karagandy said yesterday: "Shakhtar received a letter from FC Astana with a request to postpone the match in connection with the preparation of the their match with Celtic.

“We understand the complexity and responsibility facing Astana in the international arena. Given that the Champions League match affects the prestige of our entire national football, Shakhtar has agreed to switch the match to August 7.

"Shakhtar sincerely congratulates Astana reaching the third qualifying round of the Champions League. We sincerely believe that Astana with their well-deserved victory and beautiful games will continue to represent our country on the world stage. Good luck in the next game and return to the group stage of the Champions League.”

Such cordial relations between Scottish clubs have rarely been made so public.