Celtic’s recent injury crisis means that new January signing Jack Hendry looks likely to start in the heart of the defence for the Bhoys’ crucial Europa League clash with Zenit St. Petersburg next week, according to The Scottish Sun.

The 22-year-old joined from fellow Scottish Premier League side Dundee on deadline day in a deal reportedly worth over £1.2 million.

The Celtic addition was thrown straight into the match day squad for Saturday’s surprise 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock. Despite the loss, Hendry impressed in central defence and coped well on his debut.

However, he could now be thrust into the starting line-up for next week’s clash against Russian giants Zenit after both first choice central defenders, Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer limped off with injuries at Dens Park.

The former-Manchester City man looks to have suffered a groin strain and will almost certainly miss out for Celtic. Ajer picked up an ankle problem and is understood to have a better chance of recovering in time to feature against Zenit but that appears to be extremely doubtful at this stage.

Experienced defender Mikael Lustig remains sidelined after struggling for fitness of late and another January signing Marvin Compper ineligible to feature in European competition having already featured for previous side Red Bull Leipzig in the Europa League this season.

Should Ajer fail to recover, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers may be forced to pair Hendry with makeshift centre-back Nir Bitton at the heart of his defence. However, that could prove problematic against free-scoring opposition.

Worryingly for Celtic, Zenit scored 17 times in six group games and will fancy their chances of improving upon that record against a patched up defence, even though they have only recently returned from a two-month winter break.

For the Hoops, the games have come thick and fast in recent weeks. Before hosting the Russians next Thursday, they will welcome Partick Thistle to Glasgow for an important Scottish FA Cup Fifth round encounter on Saturday.

As well as booking their place in the next round all at Celtic Park will be crossing their fingers that they can come through that game without any further complications.


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