IT is a sign of Tom Rogic’s stellar start to the season that his absence for Celtic is now something of a problem, rather than just an entirely routine occurrence.

Rogic was unplayable in the first half against Hibernian in Celtic’s midweek win, in what was just the latest magical display from the midfielder in a campaign punctuated by them. But as half-time approached, the Australian limped towards the away dugout clutching the back of his leg.

Scans have subsequently revealed a hamstring injury that will take at least three weeks to clear, presenting a dilemma to manager Ange Postecoglou over how to compensate for the loss of his craft in today’s encounter against Livingston at Celtic Park.

At Easter Road, he reshuffled the midfield with Nir Bitton replacing Rogic and Callum McGregor moving into a more advanced position, but the switch seemed to upset Celtic’s rhythm and diminish the influence of their captain on the game.

Rogic’s style is so unique that he perhaps cannot be replaced like-for-like, but Postecoglou is likely to try a change of personnel rather than a change of system nonetheless.

"It's a blow for us when any player gets injured and Tommy has been in great form,” Postecoglou said.

"But the flip side of that is that he's played a lot of football this season already, more than he has in recent years.

"He has been good for us and while we don't want him to get injured, it's probably not a bad thing that he has a rest.

“Tommy and David Turnbull have carried a lot of the workload in the midfield. Cal had a spell out with injury and missed a bit, so this might help freshen Tommy up for the next part of the season.

"But of course it's disappointing as he was outstanding against Hibs and has been great all season.

"We will have a look at it and we do have some options. I don't think there is any need to change our set-up at all. Cal has played there before, Jota has the capabilities and we have a couple more options.

"Short-term, I think we can find solutions there. Long-term, I think it's an area of the park where we probably need reinforcements and hopefully we can do that in January.”

What will strengthen Postecoglou’s hand is the return of James Forrest to the squad after his own injury problems, though he may be an option for later in the game if things aren’t going well, rather than figuring in the Celtic manager’s initial Plan B.

"James has trained well this week and is available for Livingston, but I need to decide whether to include him or not.,” he said.

"If it's not tomorrow, then he will definitely be involved on Thursday. It's good to have him back.”

Forrest will return to a tight-knit squad that have managed to forge a close bond with one another despite being somewhat flung together during the summer.

Joe Hart has been a huge driving force behind that, with the experienced goalkeeper being pictured out for dinner with fellow new arrival Josip Juranovic during the week.

As mundane an occurrence as that may seem, Postecoglou says that the players socialising off the pitch is key to their success on it.

"That is part of the process, with players bonding on and off the field,” he said.

"In any environment, that's usually driven by your experienced players and how they behave. It's not about words, it's about actions and behaviours. If they do that, then the rest will follow.

"I know from my own experience in Japan that it was a difficult time last year with Covid. It was hard to create that team unity as the guys had to go home and lock themselves away.

"It would have been really challenging at Celtic last season too, so at least now we can take advantage of the freedoms we have.

"The players themselves need to take the credit for the spirit in the squad. Sometimes when you are thrown into adversity together, it bonds you.

"We have 12 new players but even some of the ones who were here, like Tony Ralston and Adam Montgomery, hadn't played a lot of football at Celtic.

"In the early part of the season, they all had to be really resilient as results and performances were inconsistent. But through that adversity, if you stick together it creates a bond among the group.

"That's what happened and also the leadership of guys like Cal, Joe, Niro (Nir Bitton) and Tommy is important.

"They have been here for a while or have past experience that if you stick together, you can build something.”

What Celtic have been building towards is an opportunity to go top of the league with a win this afternoon, at least until Rangers take on Motherwell at Fir Park tomorrow lunchtime. Not that Postecoglou will be reading too much into it should his men manage to reach the top of the pile.

"The only significance if we go top of the league is that we are going okay in terms of consistency,” he said. "But in terms of anything longer term than that, you can't look at it.

"We are only a quarter of a way through a season that has already shown that it's going to be tight. There are going to be ups and downs - with us and other teams. So, you have to focus on what is in front of you and that's Livingston at home.

"We have a chance to continue our good run since coming back from the international break. We are playing well and the results have followed. But against Livingston we have to do that again.

“The chance to move up the table isn't the major factor - it's our performance. If we can get that right, it means we have a chance of a good result.

"Whatever happens after that in terms of the table happens, but we just need to get three points in the bank.”