Hearing today that Maeda left Celtic Park on crutches last night, I was sad and disappointed but not overly concerned. We would want him fit and in the team, of course we would, but this is not an existential problem.
We are strong enough to cope without him.
When Said Haksabanovic scored last night that confirmed what many of us have long known about him; he’s a quality footballer and someone who has gotten better the longer he’s been at the club, but he’s not the only player who can play wide left.
Haksabanovic was unlucky not to score at Hampden.
He has been due his opportunity and I think it would be great if he was given the nod at the weekend and grabbed it.
But even if he isn’t then we know we’ll have Jota on one wing and Abada on the other, and no club so far has had an answer for that busy pairing. I don’t think Hearts will either.
Our club can cope with an injury to Maeda, and although we want to see him back as soon as possible that does not mean that we should rush him back. He will be with us again in good time and in the meantime we’ve got enough to keep going.
Celtic is good on this stuff, in keeping players from returning before they are ready – a lesson we learned hard when Kyogo got injured last season after being put back in the side too soon.
We will not make that mistake again with his countryman.
But the reason we did it last season was that we pretty much had to. We don’t need to here. The squad is better and stronger now than it was then, and that’s what gives us the latitude we have and the strength.
We’re going to be alright.