Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed is unlikely to feature for the Hoops in tonight’s Europa League play-off first leg against AIK because of injury.
The Daily Express reported that the 28-year-old has emerged as an injury doubt after picking up a knock in training ahead of the match.
According to the Daily Express, the Israel international is one of several injury concerns for Neil Lennon coming into the match at Celtic Park, with Scott Bain ruled out because of a dislocated thumb, Tom Rogic short of match fitness and Kristoffer Ajer picking up a shoulder injury against Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup last weekend.
It has only been a month since Abd Elhamed signed for Celtic but the defender had already seen the early weeks of his Hoops career affected by injury.
He then missed the following weekend’s 5-2 win away to Motherwell with a minor muscle problem, as reported by The Irish Times.
Whenever Abd Elhamed has been on the field so far this season, he has drawn plenty of positive reviews for his performances.
The 4th Official said that he “threatened with overlapping runs, link-up play with James Forrest, pinpoint crosses and cut insides” on his club debut against St Johnstone.
Gabriel McKay of Football Scotland described him as “cool and composed on the ball“, while Sourav Mahanty of The Celtic Bhoys called him “one of the few bright spots of this summer’s transfer window” and feels that the right-back “has made the position his own“.
In Abd Elhamed’s likely absence tonight, Lennon may decide to go with Ajer at right-back if the Norway defender is fit enough, as he has started there on four occasions already this season.
However, that would then deprive Celtic of his services in his more familiar centre-back role, and Ajer’s participation tonight is not assured given the shoulder injury from last weekend.
That would leave Anthony Ralston as the only right-back option in the Hoops’ squad and he does not seem to be greatly trusted by Lennon, having started only one game so far this campaign, the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Nomme Kalju into which Celtic took a 5-0 lead from the first leg.
Abd Elhamed has been praised for his lively, assured early performances for Celtic, but his stop-start involvement in the team because of injuries could be a worry going forward if that pattern continues throughout the season.
Celtic fans, have you been impressed with Abd Elhamed so far and how big a miss would he be when out injured? Let us know what you think by commenting below!
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