Football/Soccer

No need to rush Moussa Dembele back says Frank McGarvey

Moussa Dembele should not be rushed back for the Scottish Cup Final says Frank McGarvey.

Frank McGarvey has urged Brendan Rodgers not to put Celtic's Champions League slot at risk by rushing Moussa Dembele back for the final leg of his treble chase.

Press Association Sport understands the Hoops' 32-goal top scorer is facing a six-week lay-off after injuring his hamstring in Sunday's Hampden win over Rangers.

That is likely to rule him out of the remainder of the season, including the William Hill Scottish Cup final with Aberdeen on May 27.

Missing out on the opportunity to fire the Parkhead club to their first domestic clean sweep in 16 years would be a cruel blow for the French Under-21 international following a stunning debut campaign in Glasgow.

But former Celtic frontman McGarvey says Rodgers must resist the urge to hurry his ace poacher back for the Dons date when the club's crucial Champions League qualifiers kick-off just weeks later on July 11 or 12.

He told Press Association Sport: "With a hamstring injury, even when you first think the injury is okay, you really have to leave it another 10 days just to be sure.

"If you come back too soon from that kind of injury then you can end up being out for another five or six weeks.

"The correct approach for Celtic to take with Moussa would be to say, 'Thanks pal, you've had a great season but that's it. Let's get you right for the Champions League qualifiers'.

"It's so important they can get him clear of this injury so he can start next season fresh. Celtic will need him to do what he does.

"Dembele has proved this season that, despite being at such a young age, he can score at Champions League level.

"The club should not be taking any risks. I thought Brendan Rodgers did wonders getting the club to the group stages earlier this season, especially after losing that first game in Gibraltar.

"He's probably going to win a treble this season, but getting the club from nowhere to the Champions League was his most impressive achievement.

"A treble would be good, but, as we saw this season, making it to the group stages is so important to the club with the money it brings and it will be just as important next season."

France Under-21 international Dembele has been a goal-scoring sensation since moving north from Fulham.

He bagged five goals against Rangers in his first three Old Firm games, as well as another three in Champions League clashes with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.

But McGarvey reckons Rodgers has a more than able replacement in Leigh Griffiths.

"Brendan has not a bad player to bring in for Dembele - a guy who scored 40 goals last season," he said.

"Although Brendan has done a fantastic job this year, if I had scored 40 goals one season and then hardly got a game the next I'd be very disappointed.

"Griffiths needs games now. He's a goalscorer and you need that run of appearances to get you mentally sharp. But there are five games to go before the final so he'll get his chance to prove he's up to speed.

"But with Dembele being out, Leigh is a fantastic replacement to have."

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