Christopher Jullien a major doubt for crucial clash against Rangers
Celtic manager Neil Lennon sweating over the fitness of Christopher Jullien ahead of Old Firm derby after defender suffers injury in Dundee United victory
- Defender Christopher Jullien was stretchered off after colliding with a post
- The Frenchman is now a doubt ahead of Celtic’s crucial Old Firm derby clash
- Celtic play Rangers on Saturday, trailing the leaders by a massive 16 points
Celtic face an Old Firm injury sweat after central defender Christopher Jullien was stretchered off during Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Dundee United.
Ismael Soro scored his first goal for the club as David Turnbull made it four in his last six games before half-time
Odsonne Edouard’s 12th strike of the season saw the champions rack up a fourth straight win ahead of a must-win game at Ibrox on Saturday.
Celtic defender Christopher Jullian was stretchered off with a knee injury after a post collision
A knee injury for Jullien was the only negative, the towering defender colliding with a post after a last ditch goalline clearance from United’s Marc McNulty early in the second half.
Reluctant to make an early call on the Frenchman’s Ibrox availability Neil Lennon said: ‘All round, it’s been a good day, apart from losing Christopher, so we’ll need to see how he is.
‘He’s impacted the knee on the post, it’s quite a heavy one.
‘At the moment there’s a bit of swelling there, but just now I’m not ruling him out or in.
‘It would be a big blow if Christopher was out of the Rangers game because of the way we want to play.
‘We’ll have to assess him over the next couple of days. But again we’ve got Bitton, we’ve got Duffy.
‘We’re okay in terms of cover – but Christopher’s a big game player and we’d like him fit if possible.’
Goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas returned to the starting line-up after a five game absence yesterday – with Lennon confirming the Greek international will start at Ibrox.
Explaining the decision to bench Conor Hazard the Parkhead boss said: ‘We’ve got big games coming up and I want Vasilis to play in them.
‘He’s come in as number one and I want him to play.
‘I think Conor’s done very well but he’s still very fledgling in his career.
‘It would be a big call to put him into a game of this magnitude at the weekend.
‘So, I want to go back to experience.
‘Vasilis hasn’t shown us what he’s all about but he’s capable of doing that.
‘So I thought it was important to give him a game before the weekend.’
Still 16 points adrift of Steven Gerrard’s side Lennon finds himself in a better place after fan protests demanding his removal last months.
Jullien’s injury is a blow for Celtic manager Neil Lennon ahead of the crucial Old Firm derby
Under no illusions over the importance of a win against Rangers, however, he admits the situation is still finely balanced.
‘Our confidence is good, although we’re not getting carried away.
‘Rangers is a tough game and they are in good form.
‘So it’s a great challenge for us.
‘This sets us up very nicely for the weekend.
‘Ismaila played very well and the goal’s a bonus. I’m just pleased with the way he’s handling the game at the minute and his use of the ball.
‘His passing is very crisp and clean and he’s played very well since he came into the team.
‘As has David Turnbull, another goal from him today.’
Dundee United boss bemoaned the passive nature of a first half performance which left his side with a mountain to climb.
More aggressive in the second period, McNulty and Nicky Clark passed up two outstanding chances to make a game of it.
Without a win at Celtic Park since 1992, when the late Jim McLean was manager Mellon admitted: ‘I was disappointed about the belief in the first half. That surprised me.
‘I think we could have shown more. The ball was getting into the final third but we didn’t have people laying a glove on people.
‘You have to be able to do that at places like Celtic.
‘When we got possession back we also had to be better with the ball.
‘We came out in the second half and showed a wee bit more and created two fantastic chances for Nicky Clark and Marc McNulty.
‘If you are going to get anything from a place like Celtic Park you have to take them.
‘You have to have a winning instinct to come here and do well then believe you can do better.
‘We should aim, when we come to places like this, to be more of a problem for teams like Celtic.’
With just one win from their last six Mellon felt United should have had a penalty for a handball from Diego Laxalt in the first half.
‘My gut instinct right away was that it was a handball. You saw the reaction of all the players at the same time.
‘They believed the same as me.
‘I was certainly surprised it never went our way.’
Jullian has played an important role in Celtic’s league campaign this season, playing nine times
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