Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed could be included in Celtic’s squad for their Champions League qualifier against CFR Cluj on Wednesday.
The Scottish Sun reported that the Israel international was hopeful of recovering from a dead leg which cut short his Hoops debut against St Johnstone on Saturday.
According to The Scottish Sun, the 28-year-old expects to be fit enough to at least travel with Neil Lennon’s squad to Romania for their continental assignment, with Abd Elhamed having been added to Celtic’s European squad in place of Daniel Arzani.
Having not been included in Celtic’s squad for either leg of the Champions League qualifying win over Nomme Kalju, Abd Elhamed was given his bow in Saturday’s 7-0 rout of St Johnstone in their Premiership opener.
Lennon also commended the Israel man’s performance, telling The National: “I thought he was outstanding in the first half. His partner on the other side [Boli Bolingoli] had a great game as well. They are two big, strong, direct full-backs. They played very well.”
If Abd Elhamed does not recover in time to start against CFR Cluj, the right-back berth looks likely to go to Ralston, who played the full 90 minutes in that role in the 2-0 win away to Nomme Kalju last week.
It would represent the 20-year-old’s first real test of the season, with Celtic already 5-0 up against the Estonian champions going into last week’s second leg and the Hoops cantering to victory over St Johnstone by the time Ralston came on for Abd Elhamed on Saturday.
He is unlikely to have it so easy if he starts against CFR Cluj, with the Romanian side eliminating Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last round. In that match, they lined up with Billel Omrani on the left-hand side of attack, a player who has scored five goals in seven games already this season.
The timing of Abd Elhamed’s injury is unfortunate, as even if he manages to make the travelling squad for the trip to Cluj, he may not be fit enough to start the game.
That would leave the relatively untested and far less experienced Ralston with the duty of stifling the threat that the Romanians pose from the left-hand side.
However, the optimistic update from Abd Elhamed indicates that Lennon will at least be given a choice of right-backs for this testing Champions League encounter.
Celtic fans, who would you start at right-back for Wednesday’s game in Cluj? Let us know by commenting below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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