ANGE POSTECOGLOU had admitted that Thursday night’s game against Bayer Leverkusen may be an ‘optimistic’ target for the return of Celtic captain Callum McGregor from injury.

Postecoglou had previously suggested that his skipper may make his comeback from a hamstring problem last Sunday at Livingston, before revising his assessment later in the week to target the Europa League tie against the Bundesliga outfit at Celtic Park on Thursday evening.

But the Celtic manager is now concerned that he may have to go into that match without McGregor, as well as a host of other first team players.

New striker Giorgos Giakoumakis is the latest member of his squad to be stricken by injury, pulling up with a calf issue in the warm-up before Thursday’s League Cup win over Raith Rovers, joining the likes of Kyogo Furuhashi. James Forrest and Mikey Johnston in the treatment room.

When asked if he expected any of his sidelined players to return against Dundee United in tomorrow’s Premiership clash at Celtic Park, Postecoglou said: “No, it’s unlikely. With Cal, I think next Thursday is being optimistic for him.

“Kyogo, I doubt we’ll see him this side of the international window – but he’s pushing hard.

“Unfortunately Mikey Johnston picked up a slight niggle earlier this week so he’ll be out. I’m not sure when he’ll be back and it’s the same with others like James Forrest.

“To cut a long story short, we won’t get anyone back. And we lost another one on Thursday night.

“(Adam) Montgomery is 19 and we’re playing him here, there and everywhere. (Liam) Scales made his debut against Raith.

“We’re either debuting or giving first starts to players in every game. We’re dipping into as much of the well as we possibly can.

“I haven’t been through too many periods like this in my career, where it’s so challenging in terms of what’s happening off the field with injuries and disruptions.

“But it is what it is, mate. What our supporters want to know is we’re coming here Sunday to give everything to get a result – and just getting on with it.”