FOOTBALL: Celtic defender ruled out for six weeks

Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko will miss the start of the Scottish season after picking up an injury against Rosenborg. (Photo : Jane Barlow/PA Wire.)
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko will miss the start of the Scottish season after picking up an injury against Rosenborg. (Photo : Jane Barlow/PA Wire.)

Celtic centre-back Erik Sviatchenko has been ruled out of the Champions League play-offs.

The Dane suffered a knee ligament injury during Celtic’s qualifying win over Rosenborg on Wednesday and faces about six weeks out, meaning he will miss both play-off legs against Astana of Kazakhstan later this month.

Manager Brendan Rodgers was already without Dedryck Boyata until September with a knee injury and played midfielder Nir Bitton beside Jozo Simunovic in Norway after Sviatchenko went off.

Speaking at his pre-match media conference ahead of the Ladbrokes Premiership opener against Hearts, Rodgers said: “We’ve just had his results so he will probably be up to about six weeks, which is disappointing.

“It could have been worse but we will take it at six weeks, not probably back until September.”

Sviatchenko had missed the first leg with a groin injury and returned to training on the eve of the 1-0 away victory.

The 25-year-old vowed to return quickly.

Writing on Twitter, Sviatchenko said: “Gutted to miss the next exciting weeks with an injury. It’s a very straight forward recovery and I’ll be back asap #alwaysafighter.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers welcomed the familiarity of recent foes Astana after Celtic were drawn against the Kazakh side in their Champions League play-off.

The Hoops beat the Kazakhstan champions in last season’s third qualifying round 3-2 on aggregate.

The fixtures are reversed this year with the first leg at Celtic Park on Wednesday, August 16, and the return six days later.

“The beauty for us on this one is it is not the unknown,” said the Northern Irishman.

“We played them last year and qualified so we know what it is like out there; hotel, AstroTurf pitch, virtually the same players.

“It will be as tough as last year but we look forward to it and will be ready for it.”

Celtic begin the defence of their Ladbrokes Premiership title today against Hearts, who will have Jon Daly in interim charge following the departure of head coach Ian Cathro.

The 31-year-old, who was in his first managerial role, was sacked on Tuesday following the Jambos’ Betfred Cup exit after seven months in charge.

Rodgers revealed his empathy for Cathro and questioned the recruitment policy at Tynecastle.

“I have real empathy with Ian,” he said.

“He had some excellent jobs, particularly in Europe, and then came back to Newcastle. So he is obviously no fool and obviously a very good coach.

“He was given the trust of the board and the people there at Hearts to take on the job, and I am sad for him that he hasn’t been given the opportunity really to do it the way he wants to do it.

“He will think about what he could have done better and take it into the next job, and that club will get a very good manager.”