Celtic v Hamilton preview: Defensive issues for Brendan Rodgers
Last Updated: 26/08/18 5:10pm
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers faces more defensive headaches against Hamilton with only one recognised centre-back likely to be available.
But Rodgers has warned ongoing inconsistency of selection was no excuse for the "simple goals" they have been conceding.
The Northern Irishman was unusually strong with his public criticism of his team following a 1-1 Europa League play-off first-leg draw with Suduva on Thursday after slackness at a free-kick saw them quickly lose an early lead.
Poor defending against AEK Athens already cost Celtic a Champions League place and Rodgers has little over a week to sort out their problems ahead of the visit of a rejuvenated Rangers. Meanwhile, Rodgers was no further forward over the situation with Dedryck Boyata, who has declared himself unavailable since the club prevented him moving to Fulham.
Rodgers has the option of bringing full-backs Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney into a back three with Kristoffer Ajer on Sunday and the makeshift nature of such a backline would be nothing new.
"It's been ongoing for my time here," Rodgers said on the inconsistency of selection in defence.
"Every manager or coach will tell you, you have got to have some periods when players are out, but ideally you want players that have that robustness to play and be there every week and carry that bit of luck as well to steer clear of injuries.
"It's been constant change for us in there for numerous reasons. When it's like that then stability can be difficult.
"However, we can still do better. The goals we concede are very, very simple straightforward goals. We have a lot of domination in the games, creating opportunities and the little bits of defending we have to do, we all feel we can be better in those moments. That's something we have to strive for."
Jack Hendry (ankle) and Marvin Compper have been ruled out of Sunday's Ladbrokes Premiership encounter against the Accies and Jozo Simunovic is having a scan on the ankle problem which forced him off in Lithuania.
Odsonne Edouard (hamstring) will return to training early next week and Lewis Morgan and Nir Bitton (both knee) remain out.
Dedryck Boyata has been linked with moves to Sevilla and Turkey and his reluctance to play in major European games will make it difficult for Rodgers to reintroduce him if no move materialises.
In 21 meetings between the two sides in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic have only ever lost once (W18 D2), a 1-0 defeat in October 2014, which is also the only time Celtic have failed to score against Hamilton in the competition.
Hamilton have never scored more than one goal in a game against Celtic in the Scottish Premiership and have only scored 11 times against the Hoops in 21 such matches.
Celtic have lost three of their last seven Scottish Premiership games (W3 D1), as many as their previous 85 combined, although they haven't lost back-to-back matches in the competition since March 2013.
Hamilton's 1-0 win over Motherwell ended a run of eight away league games without a victory and six straight defeats. They haven't won consecutive such matches since November 2017.
No side has had fewer shots (12) or shots on target (3) in the opening two games of the Scottish Premiership season than Hamilton Academical, who have also faced a joint-high 33 shots and outright most 14 shots on target in the competition so far.