Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie believes that Hatem Abd Elhamed can challenge Jeremie Frimpong for the right-back slot in Neil Lennon’s preferred XI next season.
The Israel international signed for the Hoops last July but has had an injury-plagued first year in Glasgow, enabling his fellow summer arrival to establish himself in the Hoops’ first XI before the Scottish season was cut short.
Abd Elhamed has since worked his way back to fitness and McAvennie believes that he should be in the Celtic line-up for the Champions League qualifiers in August.
The 60-year-old told Football Insider: “I think he will challenge Frimpong next season. Elhamed is fit again and I really liked him. He did very, very well and seems like a strong character. He really impressed me. A big lad so he can play at centre-half as well.
“With Frimpong and Elhamed at right-back, two good players, that is a position Lenny does not need to worry about.
“Frimpong gets further forward but Elhamed is a better defensive player. I would like to see him come in for the European qualifiers.”
Who would you rather have at right-back for Celtic?
McAvennie makes a good point about Abd Elhamed’s defensive capabilities. During Celtic’s Europa League campaign, in which he played for the majority of the group stage, the Israeli won two tackles and made 2.5 interceptions per game (as per WhoScored), helping to backbone a Hoops side that topped their group.
However, it is a fair claim that Frimpong offers more to Lennon’s team from an attacking perspective. The teenager scored twice and registered four assists in his 22 appearances during the 2019/20 season, whereas his elder right-back team-mate didn’t find the net and provided just two assists from 14 appearances.
Lennon is in an ideal position of being able to choose between two right-backs whose strongest traits complement one another nicely, thus being able to make his selection based on the opponent and game situation whenever both are available.
With Champions League qualifying rounds reduced to one leg from two for next season (apart from the play-off round), the Celtic boss could opt for the more attack-minded Frimpong for games where the Hoops will likely be favourites and may plump for Abd Elhamed if the Parkhead side need to be very firm defensively.
Celtic fans, do you agree with McAvennie’s assessement of the two right-backs? Have your say by commenting below!
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