Celtic are facing a defensive sweat with Carl Starfelt fearing he could miss the start of the new season after suffering injury hell on Sweden duty.
The defender is awaiting the results of scans amid concerns he could be out for several months after being stretchered off in Thursday night’s Nations League win against Slovenia.
Starfelt was left gutted after being handed his fifth cap and the 27-year-old was immediately ruled out of the double header against Norway and the clash with Serbia.
Celtic are keeping close tabs with the Hoops squad expected to report back to Lennoxtown ahead of the pre-season training camp in Austria in early July with the big kick-off later in the month and the Champions League group stages in September.
Starfelt is understood to have suffered hamstring damage and boss Ange Postecoglou will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the crock hell suffered by Kyogo and David Turnbull – who both missed four months with hammy tears.
Starfelt admitted the outlook looks bleak as he said: “I felt a stabbing pain in my back so I had to go off.
“Of course it’s not fun, especially not when you get the chance to play and you want to take your opportunity.
“But sometimes it’s like that in football, I have to see now what kind of injury it is.
“We’ll see what it is, but it does not look very bright.
“If I am lucky, the X-ray may not show anything and I can recover in a few days, but right now I do not see it as very likely.”
Starfelt’s injury woe is an early headache for Postecoglou – who has already started plotting for next season.
The Hoops boss is looking to tie down defender Cameron Carter-Vickers on a permanent deal after agreeing personal terms, but the £6m plus move has still to be ironed out with Spurs.
Celts have been left short of central defensive cover with versatile Nir Bitton deciding to depart the club at the end of the season, leaving Christopher Jullien – who spent more than a year out with a knee injury – and youngster Stephen Welsh as the only two senior centre backs at present.
Postecoglou is also out to get a deal for Jota over the line, with the Portuguese ace currently on holiday but understood to be close to agreeing a £6.5m permanent switch to Parkhead on the back of a blockbuster loan spell from Benfica.