CELTIC manager Ange Postecoglou has expressed confidence Greg Taylor will be fit for the cinch Premiership match with Rangers at Parkhead on Saturday.

Left back Taylor limped off injured in the second-half of the 2-0 win over Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium this afternoon after colliding with Connor Randall.

The reigning Scottish champions can move 12 points clear at the top of the table with seven games remaining if they beat their city rivals at home in their next match.

However, Postecoglou is hopeful the defender, who has been one of his most consistent performers in the 2022/23 campaign, will be available for the encounter with Michael Beale’s men.  

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“He had a dead leg which hampered him,” he said. “But it’s nothing that’s going to keep him out I wouldn’t think.”

Postecoglou, whose team restored their nine point lead over Rangers in the Premiership thanks to a first-half Jota penalty and an injury-time Alexandro Bernabei strike, was pleased with how his team performed in their first outing since the international break.

“It was a good challenge,” he said. “With the conditions and the way Ross County play, we knew it wouldn’t be an easy afternoon.

“There wasn’t a lot of space to play for the most part, but we still had discipline and focus within the structure. We were wasteful in front of goal and that keeps them in the game. It’s then edgier than it should be. But overall the lads handled it okay.
“With the conditions the way they were, it wasn’t going to be a free flowing game of football. But aside from the football there was steel and character in the group to get the job done.

“The pitch wasn’t great. You could see a few times our footing went. But we hit the post twice. A couple of balls flashed across goal when usually we’re there.

“It’s not great coming out of the international break. I don’t like it because we have guys coming in at different times. We only had two days going into it. We weren’t sure if some would make it.

“(Sead) Haksabanovic wasn’t feeling well this morning. It’s fairly disruptive, but this group doesn’t want to yield to excuses or challenges put forward to them.”

The Herald:

Postecoglou was delighted to see Bernabei, the £3.75m left back who replaced Taylor and netted a screamer at the death, to score his first goal for Celtic and predicted it would boost his self-belief.
“It was good from Berno,” he said. “We know he has it in his locker because we see it in training. Hopefully it gives him confidence and belief.

“He’s still learning and getting up to speed with the way we play which isn’t easy. He works hard every day and has got his reward. We had guys getting on making an impact which is what we ask for.”

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Postecoglou, who was without Reo Hatate and Aaron Mooy, handed Tomoki Iwata his first start and was impressed with how the Japanese internationalist acquitted himself in central midfield and predicted he will go from strength to strength.
“He was great,” he said. “He was the one who looked most sure-footed in terms of the pitch and the handling of the ball.

“He’s so clean technically. He really helped us considering it was his first 90 minutes after three months. He finished strongly at the end. I was really pleased I got him out and he showed his qualities out there.
“I think he will get the benefit. Last year we found with Daizen (Maeda) and Reo, who we threw in quite early, they started strongly, but fatigued towards the end of the season.

“They have come off a full season so it’s a different feel for them at this stage of the season. So my inkling if it worked out was to get those three boys embedded slowly and give them opportunities along the way.

“Hopefully in the last bit of the season they will be really strong. We will see the best of them after they’ve had a pre-season but after looking at it today he looked really strong.”