WFC: McGeouch injury bigger concern for Celtic than loss

PHILADELPHIA – For a few minutes, the fans at Lincoln Financial Field went deathly silent.

They came to watch a show. This is not what they wanted to see.

In the 72nd minute of Saturday’s Herbalife World Football Challenge contest, Celtic F.C.’s Dylan McGeouch collided with Real Madrid’s Nuri Sahin in midair and collapsed to the grass in a heap. The 19-year-old Celtic midfielder looked like he was out cold and was carted off the field.

WFC HIGHLIGHTS: Real Madrid 2, Celtic 

Afterwards, Celtic manager Neil Lennon said the injury was likely a fractured jaw and that McGeouch was en route to a hospital.

“It’s just one of those things, one of those cruel football injuries,” Lennon said. “… We don’t know the extent of it yet until he’s seen to by specialists. No doubt, he’s in the best possible hands. He may need surgery. I’m not sure. But he was in a lot of distress and a wee bit of shock as well.”

Making the injury particularly cruel was that McGeouch had been enjoying a solid game, helping the reigning Scottish Premier League champs hang relatively close with mighty Real Madrid in an eventual 2-0 loss.

“I thought he had a great first half for us,” Lennon said. “And fingers crossed that he can make a quick recovery.”

Even before McGeouch’s scary collision, Celtic were already playing shorthanded. They began their Scottish Premier League season last week and have a Champions League playoff round game looming against the Swedish side Helsingborgs on Aug. 21. So Lennon opted to leave some of his top players in Glasgow to rest or recover.

On top of that, he noted, forwards Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes removed themselves from selection before Saturday’s game because of injuries, and then Daryl Murphy came out of the contest with a hamstring strain.

“So it was a wee bit of the walking wounded as far as we’re concerned,” Lennon said. “But it gave us a chance to bleed some of the youngsters.”

And, as far as that part went, the Celtic manager was pleased, acknowledging that playing one of the world’s best teams was “good for educational purposes” for those youngsters as they prepare for their Scottish Premier League title defense.

“We’re used to having plenty of possession in Scottish football and it was a good exercise to deal without having the ball,” Lennon said.

“To get beat against Real Madrid is not a shame,” added goalie Lukacz Zaluska, who made five saves on the afternoon.

The only real shame came in the form of McGeouch’s injury. Now, it’s just a waiting game to see if he’ll be OK.

“It puts a damper on the week as far as we’re concerned with the injury to Dylan,” Lennon said. “But we’ll see what the extent of it is and hopefully he can make a quick recovery. Facial injuries are very unpredictable.”