Baldé's broken leg puts Celtic defence under greater pressure

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The Independent Online

Celtic have confirmed that their defender Bobo Baldé suffered a broken leg during his side's Scottish Premier League 2-2 draw against Dundee United on Boxing Day. The Guinea international will now be out for several months as a result of the injury.

The defender, 31, was carried off in the first half of Monday's game. He appeared to overstretch while clearing the ball outside his own penalty area, with his right leg buckling underneath him. After four minutes of treatment on the pitch, the former Toulouse player was taken off and replaced by Darren O'Dea, whose goal in the 78th minute sparked a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down.

Celtic also have their right-back Mark Wilson out for two months with a knee injury, while defender Gary Caldwell is still suffering from a groin strain. Their manager, Gordon Strachan, has already spoken to the former Hearts captain Steven Pressley and will be hoping that the Scotland international can act as cover at the back.

Strachan, meanwhile, believes cost rather than over-confidence kept thousands of Hoops fans way from their recent SPL home games. Official attendances given for the 1-0 win over Falkirk on Saturday and the Boxing Day gamewere given as 55,000 and 57,343 respectively but given the empty seats all round Celtic Park, it seemed that many season ticket holders had stayed at home.

With the Parkhead side odds-on to retain their title and showing little signs of collapsing - the draw with United were the first points dropped at home this season - suggestions are growing that fans are struggling to muster enthusiasm for what is turning into a procession towards the title. But Strachan said: "A result like that will make sure everybody knows it is not over. But I think people can't afford the two home games over the Christmas period.

"It's OK having a season ticket but it's the cost of the travelling, the programmes and everything else that goes with it."

* Germany's defeat in the World Cup semi-final drew the country's largest-ever TV audience, according to year-end ratings released yesterday. Some 29.66 million - out of a population of 80 million - watched Germany's 2-0 loss to Italy on 4 July. Telephone surveys estimated another 16 million followed the game on screens in public areas.

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