NEIL LENNON is hopeful the curse of the Celtic right-backs is about to end.
This season, the Hoops have seen Mikael Lustig submit to double hip surgery in December after years of toiling with debilitating damage to the joints.
Adam Matthews took over from the Swede, but has also been blighted by bad luck, breaking a collarbone which required a visit to the operating theatre and battling with recurring hamstring problems.
Rising star, Darnell Fisher, then took over at right-back. But the 20-year-old is the latest to discover that this honour comes with a fast-track ticket to surgery.
Fisher has seen his right knee go under the knife, and his rehab will take him beyond the end of this season.
All of which meant 20-year-old attacking midfielder, John Herron, was pitched into the problem position at Motherwell on Saturday.
When he was subbed, skipper Scott Brown moved back to right-back, where he played at Tannadice in the game previous.
It is a run of concentrated misfortune which has concerned Lennon.
But the Hoops boss is delighted they have coped - and even happier that there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
Lennon explained: "Mikael is now back in training and we are hoping he will be fit for next weekend and get some kind of game time then.
"Darnell had an arthroscopy procedure on a knee which will keep him out for three or four weeks, and we expect Adam will join in with training this week, along with Charlie Mulgrew, who has also been out with a hamstring.
"We have coped okay with losing so many players who can play right-back for us, but it will be good to have them all back."
Although the title is won, Lennon considers it essential that, after being out for four months, Lustig gets back into action to confirm all is well with his hips before the summer break.
"It is important to get some game time into Mikael before the season ends because he has been out for so long," said Lennon.
"Psychologically for him it will be important, as well.
"He is a huge player for us.
"We just felt the surgery needed doing, and that it was the right time to do it so that he can come into the Champions League qualifiers fit and raring to go."
Efe Ambrose is another player who has been drafted in as an emergency right-back this term.
But Lennon was happy at the weekend to take the chance to drop the impressive Herron into the position to reward him for his progress this season.
He joins Liam Henderson and Eoghan O'Connell on stepping up to the first team in recent weeks.