Midfielder Shaun Maloney prepares for Celtic return

Shaun Maloney
Maloney was hurt during the 2-2 draw with Inverness in November

Shaun Maloney is close to a return for Celtic, according to assistant manager Johan Mjallby.

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury against Inverness on 27 November, but has returned to training.

Maloney is unlikely to play against Caley Thistle on Saturday, but could be available soon to manager Neil Lennon.

Celtic face Hibs, St Mirren and St Johnstone in the SPL before facing Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup.

Mjallby told the club's official website that Maloney is making good progress, but stressed that he would not be rushed back to top-flight action.

He suffered injury after nine minutes of the 2-2 draw with Inverness and had been captaining the side since mid-October in the absence of Scott Brown.

"Maybe the weekend will be too soon for him but he will definitely compete soon for a first-team start," said Mjallby.

"He is definitely on his way in breaking back into the team soon enough, but at this given time we just want to give him as much quality training sessions as possible.

"With his experience it's not going to take him a long time to be up there.

"And when you have been out for such a long time, it doesn't really matter how hard you work in a gym or outside, you need to get football in as well as it's a contact sport - you need to be out there playing games and having hard training session to get up to the level you want to be.

"But he will be there soon and will probably get some quality training sessions done this whole week."