Postecoglou admits to having a tough time

Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou concedes he's having one of his toughest times in football.
Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou concedes he's having one of his toughest times in football.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admits that he's going through one of the most challenging periods in his career.

The Hoops sit sixth in the Scottish Premiership after losing all three away games and their Australian manager's injury concerns in his squad only mounted further this week.

But the 56-year-old still believes his side will emerge strongly from their fitness issues and predicted the Scottish Premiership title race would be close this season.

Postecoglou knew he faced a major task when he took over a team that had finished 25 points behind Rangers last season and were in need of a major overhaul of personnel.

Having sold the likes of Ryan Christie, Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard and offloaded players such as Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths, as well as four loan players from last season, Postecoglou eventually managed to rebuild his squad, although not as quickly as he would have liked.

But he could not have foreseen the injury situation which will deprive him of eight players for Sunday's visit of Dundee United, most of them in the forward areas.

"To cut a long story short, we won't get anybody back for Sunday," said Postecoglou on Friday.

"I haven't been through too many periods in my career like this where it's so challenging with what's happening off the field in terms of injuries and disruptions.

"But it is what it is, and what our supporters want to know is that we come here on Sunday and do everything to get a result and just get on with it.

"I don't think it's an excuse but there are valid reasons why we are a little bit inconsistent in terms of the way we are playing at the moment, because we have lost our captain, lost our top goalscorer, other guys who can play in the front area haven't been available.

"Those kind of things you can use as reasons for not progressing, but we are not doing that.

"If we haven't performed, we take it on the chin like we did on Sunday and come back in midweek and get the job done.

"If we get through this period it just means we will be a real, strong unit."

While losing five away games on the trot, Celtic have managed to maintain their home form, netting 28 goals in seven successive victories.

"All we want to do is play our football and win games of football," Postecoglou shrugged.

"People assume things along the way, I think there are historical references for that, but I have got a feeling this league will be tight this year. But then again, I could be wrong as well."

Australian Associated Press