By Coral Barry

Brendan Rodgers has confirmed Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko will miss the first leg of the Hoops’ Champions League qualifier against Astana and admitted he is not sure when the centre-back will return.

Celtic head into the tie as favourites on Friday, but are facing a defensive crisis with Sviatchenko out for the foreseeable future, and Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata still returning from injury.

New signing Kolo Toure will not be available against Astana and Rodgers admitted during his press conference ahead of the game that the medical staff are still assessing the extent of Sviatchenko’s injury.

“Sviatchenko had been working well, but unfortunately before the game he picked up a groin strain and is unavailable for tomorrow night,” said Rodgers as quoted on the Celtic Twitter page.

“We will see when we get back [from Kazakhstan] and assess it from there. Just depends. A slight groin strain on the Friday so we will wait and see.”

Celtic head into the tie after silencing the doubters with a 3-0 win over Lincoln Red Imps last week, after losing the first leg 1-0.

Astana’s manager has already outlined how he thinks his side can beat the Hoops, but is aware his side go into the tie as the underdogs.

In other Celtic news, Toure has revealed he wants to replicate his greatest ever achievement with the Hoops.