“Like Having Two New Players” – Rodgers Delighted As Celtic Get Double Fitness Boost Ahead Of Derby

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says it will be “like having two new players” with both Liel Abada and Reo Hatate back available for selection.

The pair have been sidelined for a considerable length of time due to their respective injuries and, while Rodgers is happy to have them back, he was cautious when asked if they will be fit to face Rangers on Saturday:

“They could be around it. It’s another thing being ready to start. Liel looked really good on the field when he trained with the group last night. We kept him at home to do another session to build him up. We’ve really missed his running, his goals. He’ll be brilliant for us for the second part of the season.”

“Reo is at a good level, but not a level to start. He’s training hard. It will be like having two new players when we get those two back.”

Celtic have missed the pair’s contributions this season

Abada scored 13 goals and contributed 9 assists for the Hoops last campaign but the Israeli international has only managed 4 appearances this season after tearing a thigh muscle back in September.

Hatate has, arguably, been even more influential for the Scottish champions. The Japanese midfielder was in good form prior to picking up a hamstring problem at the end of October, with 4 goal involvements in his last 4 league games. The duo will certainly give Rodgers more firepower in attack.

Could Abada and Hatate face Rangers?

As Rodgers mentions, while both players are back in training, they haven’t played for several months so asking them to make their comeback in an intense derby would be too much to ask.

There is, however, a decent chance that one or even both of them will be fit enough for the bench at Celtic Park this weekend.

David Tully

David Tully

David has worked as a football reporter for the last fifteen years. Having started as an intern at Snack Media, he then went on to become a freelancer, working on various different sites. At the start of 2023, he took up his current role as content writer for National World's Football News Network.