Former Scotland international Alan Hutton has said it is “a shame” that teenage defender Jeremie Frimpong was not included in Celtic’s Europa League squad for the group stage.
The 18-year-old was omitted from the list of names submitted by Neil Lennon to UEFA for the Hoops’ group games in European competition, with Hatem Abd Elhamed and Moritz Bauer instead featuring at right-back in the Europa League.
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Having seen Frimpong hold down a place Lennon’s first XI in the Premiership of late, Hutton has been hugely impressed by the youngster, who he would like to have seen being tested at European level.
He told Football Insider: “For someone so young, he’s showing great promise. Every time I seem to be singing his praises.
“He’s just going from strength to strength. He’s really taken his chance with both hands and grasped it. It’s a shame he missed out on the European squad. It would have been good for him to be tested at that level.
“It shows you how quickly he’s come on this season that he’s not been included in the European squad. He’s probably for me, the number one right-back. It’s brilliant to see.”
Looking at the impact that Frimpong has made domestically, it’s not hard to see why Hutton has been championing the teenager to such a large degree.
The 18-year-old was lauded by many Celtic fans after his debut against Partick Thistle in the Betfred Cup in September and made a significant impact in his first two Premiership games the following month, setting up a goal against Ross County before finding the net himself against Aberdeen a week later (as per TransferMarkt).
Lennon called the youngster “an energetic buzzbomb” after his league debut when speaking to Celtic TV (via Evening Times) and he was rewarded for his fine Celtic performances with a call-up to the Netherlands’ under-20 squad last month.
Matthew Lindsay of Herald Scotland wrote that he “offered glimpses of his talent” in the game against Ross County in October, while Ryan Brown of Read Celtic said that he “was absolutely terrific down the right hand side and seemed to beat his man every time” in the recent 4-0 win over Livingston, a game in which Frimpong supplied an assist.
Former Hoops defender Jackie McNamara joined in the praise of the teenager by describing him as “a real prospect” when speaking to Football Insider a few weeks ago.
Two games against Rangers this month could offer the 18-year-old a chance to prove himself against a team of Europa League standard, with Steven Gerrard’s side well placed to join Celtic in the last 32 of the competition.
If Frimpong features in those games and delivers another couple of effective displays from right-back, Hutton should soon get his understandable wish of seeing the youngster performing on the European stage.
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