Celtic manager Neil Lennon faces a selection dilemma for tonight’s Europa League clash with FC Copenhagen at Parkhead, with the Hoops potentially missing three regular midfield options.
As noted by The Scottish Sun, Ryan Christie and Olivier Ntcham will definitely miss the game due to suspension and injury respectively, while captain Scott Brown remains an injury doubt after limping out of last week’s first leg in Denmark with a calf strain.
According to The Scottish Sun, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic are set to come into the starting XI due to those midfield absences, while January signing Ismaila Soro is in line to be named among the substitutes.
The Ivorian may feel that the confirmed absences of Christie and Ntcham, along with the doubts over Brown’s participation, could give him one of his better chances of getting game-time under Lennon. He completed his transfer from Bnei Yehuda a month ago today, with Celtic playing eight matches since then. However, the 24-year-old is still waiting to make his senior debut for the club. Indeed, he has only been included in a matchday squad once in his first month in Glasgow, being an unused substitute for the Scottish Cup visit to Clyde (as per TransferMarkt).
His transfer to Celtic was a protracted one – his agent fuelled speculation by publicising a photo of him and Soro in Dubai when the Hoops had their winter training camp there (as per Daily Record) and Genk then tried to wade in on the race for his signature (as per Sky Sports). He passed his medical at Parkhead on January 22nd but the transfer wasn’t officially completed for another five days due to the wait for international clearance.
Celtic’s excellent form (nine wins and one draw) since the winter break has perhaps made it hard for Lennon to break up his midfield and Soro to get his chance. Brown has missed only three games all season while Ntcham has scored three times since the turn of the year, so it should not be surprising that the manager has kept faith with the players who have served him well.
However, the spate of midfield absences tonight would appear to present Soro with an ideal chance to finally get the opportunity to show what he can do for Celtic after January’s transfer saga. Even if he doesn’t go straight into the starting line-up, it would represent a real disappointment for the Ivorian if he isn’t at least given minutes off the bench, especially if the Hoops manage to establish a firm lead in the tie (currently level at 1-1) before the hour mark.
Celtic fans, do you want to see Soro getting game-time tonight? Would you fear for his prospects at the club if he doesn’t get a run against FC Copenhagen given the absences of other midfielders? Comment below with your views!
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