Celtic blow as midfielder Kayal is ruled out for at least one month
Celtic”s title momentum suffered a huge blow last night when key midfielder Beram Kayal was ruled out for at least a month.
The Israeli international was stretchered off in Wednesday”s Old Firm victory over Rangers with an ankle injury.
And he could be out for an even longer period depending on the results of further tests next week.
Blow: Beram Kayal has recently returned to his best form but the ankle injury he sustained during the Old Firm derby (inset) means Celtic will be denied his drive in January
Back to his best after signing an improved contract, Kayal produced another fine display against Rangers and was an integral figure in Celtic”s surge to the summit of the SPL, earning strong praise from manager Neil Lennon after the game.
A statement on the Parkhead club”s official website confirmed that the midfielder is out until at least the end of January.
It read: “Beram Kayal has undergone two sets of scans on the ankle injury sustained on Wednesday and results received today have revealed he will be out for at least one month.
“The midfielder will receive a further investigation on his injury in one week.”
The setback seems certain to end any chance of Liverpool following up their interest in the player during the January window.
Anfield boss Kenny Dalglish ran a check on Kayal in the home Europa League defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Target: Kayal”s injury means Liverpool are almost certain not to follow up their interest
Any move would not be welcomed, with Celtic assistant manager Johan Mjallby last night warning Premiership suitors to keep their hands off the club”s top players next month.
West Brom boss Roy Hodgson and Everton”s David Moyes were amongst the army of watching scouts at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
And, while Nikica Jelavic of Rangers was the main draw, Mjallby believes the likes of Victor Wanyama, Adam Matthews and James Forrest are also attracting interest.
Attracting interest: James Forrest (right)
The Swede said: “We know some of our players are going to be linked with other clubs, especially with those down south.
“We want to keep all of our best (players), especially now we are in a good position in the league.
“We have to wait and see as we have a big squad, but we are still in three competitions and we need a big squad to mix the team around.
“I”m quite sure the board and the rest of us are on the same wavelength in that we want to win trophies. To win trophies, you need to keep your best players.”
Forrest has caught the eye but reacting to suggestions he could emerge as the next Aiden McGeady – who left to join Spartak Moscow for 9.5million last August – Mjallby cautioned: “James is level-headed. He wants to play and I think, no matter what bid comes in, he will want to stay at least until the end of the season.
“Arguably, he has been our best player this season and he is in a good place right now. He is enjoying his training and his football. That is something you don”t want to disrupt.”
Mjallby spoke as Celtic officially unveiled 25-yearold Swedish international right-back Mikael Lustig.
The former Rosenborg man can also play in the centre of defence, but Mjallby insisted: “I wouldn”t put him in the centre-half bracket.
“Mikael sees himself as a right-back and he has done that for most of his career.
“But he gives us an option to experiment with a back three now and again. “He has a great engine and likes to go forward, which suits the way we try to play.
Extra option: New Celtic signing Mikael Lustig
“He is good on the ball and reasonably quick, if not the pace of Cha Du-Ri or Adam Matthews.
“Also, he has the height for the Scottish game for set-pieces and diagonals.
“Mikael also has experience. He is aiming for the Sweden squad for Euro 2012, but he has competition. Cha has been terrific and we”ve all seen what Adam can do.”
Meanwhile, the agent of rejuvenated forward Georgios Samaras says the player won”t quit Celtic unless he is pushed.
The Greek international was expected to leave during next month”s window after a wretched start to the season, but has staged a remarkable comeback to oust Anthony Stokes from the starting line-up.
Agent Dr Gregory Loannidis told Sportsmail: “Georgios extended his initial contract last March because he wanted to stay at Celtic and the feelings from the manager were mutual.
“There are always suitors but, unless and until Celtic indicate otherwise, Georgios remains a Celtic player.”