16 Sep Mulgrew and Armstrong miss Ajax clash
Charlie Mulgrew has been ruled out of the Europa League group stage opener with Ajax after a picking up a groin injury, Celtic assistant boss John Collins has said.
Mulgrew suffered the setback in Celtic’s 2-1 defeat to Aberdeen at the weekend. Stuart Armstrong is still sidelined with a back injury and Scott Allan also misses the trip.
Speaking at Glasgow Airport ahead of their trip to Amsterdam, Collins said: “Charlie is the only one not here.
“He’s got a thigh muscle injury so we are still waiting on confirmation of the scan result but it looks as if it will be a few weeks.
“It’s a blow because he’s an experienced player and there are lots of big games coming up so we just hope he’ll have a speedy recovery.”
Collins hinted that could mean Jozo Simunovic could make his first start for the club on Thursday after his £5.5 million switch from Dinamo Zagreb.
Efe Ambrose, Tyler Blackett and Mikael Lustig are alternative options.
“The team has not been picked but Jozo trained very well and there’s every chance he could get his debut,” he said.
“It’s the start of a group and it’s going to be a tough challenge.
“Ajax are a good young team. I watched their Champions League qualifiers and they were very unlucky not to qualify.
“They are a great club with a great history, so it’s going to be a wonderful challenge for us.
“We are looking for a reaction [from the Aberdeen game], a good performance, but we are going into a different environment and it’s going to be a great challenge for the players, a new challenge.
“We don’t play teams like Ajax every week, they have a lot of new players, doing very well and only lost their first points at the weekend in a 2-2 draw.
“It is another game, another tournament, and I thought we did fairly well in it last season getting out the group stages, so we want to do exactly the same this season.
“We won’t be favourites, it will be a tough match but one we feel we can go and win.
“I’m very excited. You have to look forward to these big games. We’ll get there tonight and train in the stadium and it will feel like a Champions League game.”