Brendan Rodgers says he will have to be cautious with Callum McGregor as he revealed the Celtic captain may miss tomorrow’s trip to face Hearts at Tynecastle with an Achilles problem.

McGregor was taken off at half time in the midweek thumping of Dundee at Celtic Park with his side already six goals to the good, a move that many presumed was simply to give the midfielder a rare rest as the season moves into the critical final stretch.

But Rodgers admits that he will have to weigh up the risks of throwing McGregor into action when he may not be fully fit to ensure he is available for the crucial games that are still to come.

The Celtic skipper himself is eager to play, but when asked if he may have to protect him from himself, Rodgers said: “Well that’s exactly it, aye.

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“With players like that in my experience, the guys who are always available and always playing, it’s such a new experience for them to be injured.

“It is one of those where all players, especially top players, they want to play every game. So, you have to be mindful of it and you have to be aware of the risk.

“We will clearly take that into consideration because we are entering into a really important period.

“It’s an opportunity for someone else to come in. I’d love to get to the point this season where all these players were available and ready to play together, and enjoy seeing them play together.

“But, like I say, if it is one where he isn’t available then the opportunity is there for someone else.

“We’ve seen guys like Liam Scales taking opportunities this season, and it’s what you need in a good squad.

“They are all big games. I said it at Motherwell, I said it during the week, and I say it now for Hearts, they are all big games.

“You are always weighing up the risk. You can go into a cup final and if there is nothing after that for a while then of course the risk might be greater, but you can take that risk.

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“But with still quite a bit of the season to go and important games, we just have to weigh that up.”

If McGregor ultimately doesn’t make the Tynecastle showdown, Rodgers is confident that there will still be enough strong leadership within his ranks to make sure they clear what looks to be a significant hurdle in the title race.

“The likes of Cameron and Ali Johnston now getting back up to speed and strong fit, Greg Taylor is a great speaker as well,” he said.

“So, that leadership from within from guys like big Joe Hart, these guys will step up.

“Someone of Callum’s quality and leadership qualities will always be a miss when he isn’t playing, but that then is the responsibility of everyone then to take that on board.”