Arzani set for Celtic return with reserves run

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Daniel Arzani is slated to return to action for the first time in almost 11 months in a friendly game for Celtic’s second team on Tuesday.

The on-loan 20-year-old attacking weapon is edging closer to a first team tilt after recovering from an ACL injury sustained just 23 minutes into his Hoops debut against Dundee last October.

But first the Socceroos starlet must convince coach Neil Lennon he is ready for the hurly-burly of the Scottish Premiership, starting with an anticipated 30-45 minute hit-out for the reserves.

If all goes well, he will then feature for an hour or more when Celtic’s second string take on Greenock Morton in the SPFL Reserve Cup on Monday week, as part of a carefully staged comeback formulated by Celtic’s medical and coaching staff.

The plan is to graduate him up to 90 minutes before he can return to the first team mix, with a possible senior squad comeback in the first week of October when Celtic travel to Livingston in the league.

Arzani has been itching to test himself in a competitive game since being given the all clear to resume full impact training late last month.

But to minimise the risk of an injury recurrence, the winger - in the second year of his two-season loan from Manchester City - has been held back from rushing his re-emergence.

Australia coach Graham Arnold has been in constant touch with Australia’s most promising young prospect with both the Olyroos and Socceroos in mind.

But Arnold will be mindful, first and foremost, of Arzani’s progress in pursuit of peak fitness at club level before making any decisions on whether to call him up for next month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers at home to Nepal and on the road in Chinese Taipei.

There is also the prospect of Arzani being drafted into Olyroos action for January’s AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand with Olympic Games qualification the prize at stake.

Meantime, he will be desperate to make up for lost time by pressing his claims at club level where he faces the task of dislodging the likes of Mohamed Elyounoussi, on a year-long loan from Southampton, for a starting spot with the defending champions.