Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admits losing captain Callum McGregor to injury ahead of tomorrow night’s Europa League clash with Real Betis is reflective of the tough period they find themselves going through.
The midfielder picked up a knock during Saturday’s 3-0 win over Ross County and won’t be on the plane to Seville as the Hoops kick-start their group stage campaign.
Postecoglou is already without Japanese sensation Kyogo Furuhashi and will also travel without Israeli striker Liel Abada who is celebrating Yom Kippur and left-back Greg Taylor who requires surgery on a shoulder injury.
He said: “It’s not ideal losing Callum as he’s a very influential player for us but we’re going through a period like that at the moment where we’re getting some significant injuries.
“That’s kind of been the state of play since I arrived. We’ve not been able to settle but I view that as an opportunity for us to build resilience through this period and just keep doing what we’ve been doing.
“If we can get through these tough periods without shifting far from the team we want to be then it’s only going to make us stronger once we’ve got everyone back.”
The Australian head coach also issued an updated regarding the fitness of £2.5m Deadline Day signing Giorgos Giakoumakis who is yet to make his debut for the Hoops.
Postecoglou said: “He won’t be quite ready for tomorrow night. He’s in the boat with probably three or four others who we can’t expect to return around the same time.
“Hopefully by the middle of next week he’ll be available, but this game has just come too early.”
Despite the injury setbacks he has had to contend with, Postecoglou admits his side are looking forward to testing themselves against the La Liga outfit in an environment they have fond memories of, following the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.
He admitted: “Like every team, we do our research and had somebody watch them on Monday night, so we’ve got all the information we need.
“They’ve brought in one or two players, but they’ve got a fairly settled team and an outstanding manager.
“We were pleased to reach the group stages because we knew it would throw up some pretty exciting fixtures to be involved in.
“Real Betis had a fantastic season last year and it’s the kind of opposition we want to test ourselves against. They’re a quality side with some real threats up front who can cause any team problems.
“From our perspective, it’ about trying to impose the way we want to play on very good opposition.
“There is historical significance for the club going back to Seville. When you walk round Celtic Park there are images of Martin O’Neill and our fans on that day.
“The past experiences of playing in Seville in European competition of course have an impact and it would’ve been great to have some travelling support there because it’s a journey you want to share with them.
“It motivates you to try and make your own stamp in this club’s history that can be talked about by future generations of players that come through these doors.”
Postecoglou added: “You definitely do want to enjoy occasions like this but you’ve got to try and have an impact.
“Hopefully we’ll be involved in some special nights. I don’t want to go there fearful or hesitant about outcomes and all of those kinds of things.
“To truly enjoy the experience, I’ve always felt you have to believe in something and give your everything and usually you come away having lived that experience to its fullest.
“There’s no football team, coach or player in the world that doesn’t want to win. From my perspective, it’s about how we want to portray ourselves as individuals and ask ourselves what kind of football team we want to be.
“That’s my way of coaching and what I want to create here, and we talk about that to the players on a daily basis.”
Asked whether Swiss striker Albian Ajeti will continue to lead the line for Celtic in Andalusia after scoring twice against Ross County at the weekend, Postecoglou stated: “I’m sure he’ll be feeling good and looking forward to the game.
“It’s an opportunity for Albian. He’s testament that if you work hard in training and remain patient, wait for your opportunity but take it when it comes along and that’s exactly what he did.
“He improved as the game went on. It was hard for him because when you haven’t played for quite a while it’s difficult to get into a rhythm, but he really persevered and got his rewards in the end.”