Ange Postecoglou provides Carl Starfelt injury update as ex-Celtic star questions standard of Scottish Premiership

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The Hoops brushed Hearts aside to knock them out of the Scottish Cup after a 3-0 thrashing at Tynecastle.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has confirmed the reason behind his decision to replace Carl Starfelt at half-time during their 3-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Hearts was due to hip injury.

The Hoops joined Championship side Inverness, who knocked out Kilmarnock 2-1 on Friday night, in rubber-stamping their place in the semi-finals of the competition with a commanding display at Tynecastle to seal back-to-back wins over Robbie Neilson’s side.

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Swedish centre-back Starfelt - a mainstay in the Celtic defender alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers this season - was brought off at the interval and replaced by Yuki Kobayashi, who was making just his fourth appearance since joining the club in January.

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The former Vissel Kobe defender slotted in seamlessly to play his part in the clean sheet but Postecoglou admitted why he was forced into the substitution.

The Australian stated: “He felt a niggle in his hip flexor during the warm-up actually. He kind of felt it early on in the game but we got him through to half-time and you could see he wasn’t moving well in the first-half. He wasn’t his normal self so we made the change.

“I don’t think it’s anything significant but it was good to get Yuki some game time, you can see his quality for a young man and I thought he did well when he came on.”

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Ex-Celtic striker John Hartson - working as a pundit on Viaplay Sports - felt his old club were good value for the winning margin but question the quality of the Scottish Premiership after claiming THREE teams are currently miles clear of the rest.

Speaking post-match, he said: “Celtic are steamrolling everyone right now, they really are. They are 21 games unbeaten. They’re awsome to watch. The one thing Hearts had to do - and I said it at the start of the game - was stay with Celtic.

Jota of Celtic evades Orestis Kiomourtzoglou and Jorge Grant of Hearts at TynecastleJota of Celtic evades Orestis Kiomourtzoglou and Jorge Grant of Hearts at Tynecastle
Jota of Celtic evades Orestis Kiomourtzoglou and Jorge Grant of Hearts at Tynecastle | Getty Images

“You can’t gift Celtic anything. In the first minute, they got in behind and Reo Hatate had a really good shot. A minute later Celtic go a goal in front and all of a sudden Hearts have an awful lot to do. They came back into the game but I can’t recall Joe Hart making many saves in 90 minutes.

“Hearts have a lot of injuries - missing their top scorer Lawrence Shankland and Robert Snodgrass who can make things happen and long-term injuries like Craig Halkett who is their leader. But saying all that they are still doing fantastically well.

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“They are third in the league and maybe we need to look at the league. Is the league strong enough? Hearts are up to third and for me are the third-best team in Scotland but who else is really threatening them right now? They are five points ahead of Hibs and way clea of other teams.

“Celtic, Rangers and Hearts are the top three teams and the others have to do a lot more to catch up.”

Celtic, who have their sights locked on a domestic Treble, will discover their semi-final opponents during Monday night’s draw following the conclusion of Falkirk’s televised clash with Ayr United. Old Firm rivals Rangers entertain Raith Rovers at Ibrox tomorrow.

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