BRENDAN Rodgers has admitted that injured Celtic captain Callum McGregor is likely to miss the Scotland friendlies against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland later this month.

Rodgers revealed on Friday that Parkhead captain McGregor had missed training due to Achilles and calf issues which arose in the wake of his side's 7-1 thrashing of Dundee in midweek.

The Scottish champions’ skipper sat out his first cinch Premiership match of the 2023/24 campaign at Tynecastle this afternoon – and watched his team mates slump to a 2-0 defeat to Hearts from the main stand.

His manager explained the midfielder will go for a scan later this week after the loss - but confessed that he does not expect him to be available for selection until after the international break.   

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“He will have another scan on Wednesday,” he said. “I don’t think it will be long-term but it may last through to the international break.”

Asked if he would miss the Scotland games, he said: “I don’t know. He may well do. He has a further scan on Wednesday and then we will get to see where he’s at. If he’s not going to be involved for us he obviously won’t be involved for Scotland.”

Rodgers, who was furious with the red card which Yang Hyun-jun was shown and the penalty Hearts were awarded for a Tomoki Iwata handball, brought in Paulo Bernardo for McGregor and was pleased with how Celtic performed without their talismanic captain.

Glasgow Times: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after his side's 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle“I think the players fought and gave everything,” he said. “Clearly Callum is a really influential player for us, but the guys gave their all. They gave everything and fought right to the very end. We showed the spirit we had to show.

“It was a game that can run away from you because of the atmosphere and everything else, and at the end of a really long week. A tough week of games with Motherwell last Sunday and the midweek game. You don’t want to go down to 10 men after 15 minutes or so.

“The players gave everything. The fight is there. The quality is there. We will have other opportunities to show that.”

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Meanwhile, Rodgers, whose team passed up the opportunity to leapfrog Rangers into top spot in the Premiership today, has predicted there will be more twists and turns before the Scottish title race is decided.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You would never have said yesterday before Rangers lost to Motherwell at home that they would lose.

“Everything I hear is that they are going to win every single game through to the end of the season. But we know it’s about us. It’s still very much in our hands.

“We’ve got 12 games to go. Nine league games and we want to be in the cup final on May 25. We will fight for every competition we will be in.

“We had the chance to go top. It was unfortunate the way the game panned out for us. We now have to recover and go away and get to the (Scottish Cup) semi-finals next weekend.”