Johan Mjallby admits leaving out some of their key players could have backfired on Celtic after they struggled to grind out a 1-0 win over St Mirren in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Mark Wilson and Georgios Samaras were left on the bench and captain Scott Brown was absent from the squad completely, with all three one booking away from suspension, but Celtic's assistant manager praised the players who did ultimately deliver the victory, thanks to substitute Kris Commons' 79th-minute strike at Parkhead.
Mjallby said: "We were expected to win this game and we believed we would win the game. Obviously it would have backfired if we hadn't got the three points."
He added: "You always miss Scott because he is our skipper but that's not an excuse for the other players who come in and we think we've got a good squad anyway.
"You are always going to miss Scott with his energy but we had to make a decision about his yellow cards situation.
"Him playing and restricting him by telling him he's not able to use his energy and pick up yellow cards would have been silly.
"We think about all our players and some players we want to use for the Old Firm game so we need to be clever. On another note, we also need to rotate the players because it's good to have players who haven't played as much this season."
With the game still deadlocked with 11 minutes to go, Mjallby was asked if the decision to protect those players almost backfired.
He added: "During the game, I don't think about that because we made the decision before the game.
"We've got a good enough squad anyway so it shouldn't be a big issue."