GREG Taylor has insisted that understrength Celtic can cope without a raft of key players against Rangers and record a win that takes them to the top of the cinch Premiership.
Stand-in Celtic captain Nir Bitton was ruled out of the league match at Parkhead on Wednesday night when he got sent off during the dramatic 1-0 victory over Dundee United on Saturday.
Ange Postecoglou was already missing Kyogo Furuhashi, Yosuke Ideguchi, Callum McGregor and David Turnbull, who are all injured, as well as Daizen Maeda and Tom Rogic, who are away on international duty.
Taylor, though, is confident that Celtic, who are just two points behind their city rivals at the top of the league table following their weekend triumph, will be unaffected by the absences in the derby match.
“The gaffer’s always saying what a resolute team we are and most challenges that have been thrown at us we’ve dealt with them,” said the left back.
“The way we adapt to injuries and other setbacks is really important. The gaffer has a philosophy, a way of playing, and everyone knows their role in it when called on.
“It’s unfortunate for Nir, but it’s an opportunity for someone else and whoever gets the call will try to grab it.”
Taylor added: “Every game’s an opportunity, the manager’s massive on that. He always tells us that you have a short career and not to waste as much as a second of it.
“So Wednesday night’s another one of those occasions when no one wants to waste a second of the opportunity.
“If we play the football we can, results will take care of themselves and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season. We just play our football, take each game as it comes and try not to waste any opportunities.
“You feel pressure every game at a club like this because of the demands made on it, but pressure creates diamonds, doesn’t it? If we put on a good performance, then we’ll enjoy the pressure.”
Celtic fans celebrated before the Premiership encounter with United on Saturday when Rangers conceded an injury-time equaliser to Ross County in Dingwall and dropped two points.
But Taylor stressed that he and his team mates had concentrated fully on beating Tam Courts’ side – which they did when Liel Abada netted a winner in the last minute of regulation time.
“We don’t really look at league tables, we just focus on what the manager wants us to do,” he said.
“The fans got a lift before the game, course they did, but we just try to focus on what we can do on the pitch. We want to play our football and tried to play it, even though sometimes we didn’t reach the levels we know we can.
“But we kept on fighting until the last minute and we got the result. That’s what you have to do when you believe in the football we want to play, it’s part and parcel.
“It was a big win in terms of it being late on and we were glad to get the three points. So if it takes to whatever minute it took here, that’s how it is.”
Taylor is pleased the Celtic fans will be allowed in to Parkhead in large numbers for the Rangers match after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed and is hoping they have a performance and win to cheer on Wednesday night.
“You just hope you get the chance to play,” he said. “It’d be special. But it’s special for everyone, for the fans who are able to be back in the stadium for a game like this. That’s what we always want regardless of who we play, a full Celtic Park and we’ll certainly get it on Wednesday.”