Kris Commons urges Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou to be ‘a smarter’ with how he uses threadbare squad

The Hoops squad has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou.Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou.

Former Celtic playmaker Kris Commons insists Ange Postecoglou deserved the flack he received from supporters and pundits for his decision to bring on Kyogo Furuhashi in their meaningless Europa League tie against Real Betis last week.

The Japanese striker was brought on as a first-half substitute in the dead-rubber against the La Liga outfit on Thursday but was later forced off with a hamstring strain, adding to the club’s injury woes.

Hoops manager Postecoglou was handed a slight reprieve yesterday after confirming his star man won’t be out long term but doubt remains over his participation in Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden Park.

The Parkhead outfit coped without their talisman during Sunday’s 1-0 win over Motherwell, courtesy of a Tom Rogic goal.

However, with the likes of fellow attacking players Jota, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Albian Ajeti also on the treatment table amid a packed fixture schedule, Postecoglou was dealt another setback after James Forrest limped off injured against the Steelmen.

Commons has urged Postecoglou to be “smarter” with how he uses his injury-ravaged squad and reckons the Australian should find a better solution, rather than risking his star performers.

Writing in his Daily Mail column, he said: “I know Postecoglou is a competitive guy and he wants to field a team to win games. But common sense should have prevailed.

“Even accounting for the shortage of options in forward areas, Kyogo shouldn’t have been anywhere near the pitch last Thursday, even as a substitute Postecoglou was complaining about Celtic’s hectic fixture schedule.

“But it’s a bit of an own goal when you risk your star player in a pointless game and he ends up getting injured.

“Kyogo should have been wrapped in cotton wool. Even if he does play against Hibernian in the League Cup final next weekend, it’s hard to believe he’ll be 100-per-cent fit.

“There are two types of risks you can take in football. The first is the risk-and-reward approach, when you might gamble on a player’s fitness in a big game in the hope they’ll make the difference for you.

“But that wasn’t the case in this instance. It was just a pointless exercise in bringing Kyogo off the bench as a substitute and it was a risk that backfired.

“The squad is down to the bare bones, but Celtic supporters could probably have come up with about 10 alternative solutions to rejig the team against Betis which didn’t involve risking Kyogo.”

With the game coming thick and fast over the festive period, Commons knows how important the next few weeks are for his old club.

He stressed the importance of keeping within touching distance of Premiership leaders Rangers ahead of the second Old Firm Derby of the season on January 2nd.

Commons added: “It’s absolutely vital that Celtic get through this period. If they can navigate this stretch of games and still be within striking distance of Rangers heading into the Old Firm game, it will be a huge boost.

“Postecoglou will be backed in the January transfer window, of that there is no doubt. He has shown enough as manager to warrant further investment in new players.

“Certainly in the forward areas, the squad is almost at breaking point just now and that’s only going to be tested further over these next three weeks.

“They remain four points behind Rangers at the moment. Realistically, you don’t want to be any worse than six points off heading into the Old Firm clash.

“Then you back yourself to go and win that match in front of your own supporters, getting the gap back down to three. From there, it would very much be game-on heading into the winter break.

“With resources being so stretched, however, Postecoglou needs to be a little bit smarter with how and when he uses his star players.”

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