Former Celtic defender Jackie McNamara has given his backing to current Hoops player Moritz Bauer to come into the first team this weekend due to a possible right-back injury crisis.
Jeremie Frimpong, who has been the first choice in that position of late, was stretchered off towards the end of the win at Kilmarnock on Wednesday night after a clattering challenge from Alan Power left him requiring several minutes of treatment. Celtic manager Neil Lennon said afterwards that he is hoping that the teenager might recover for the visit of Ross County to Parkhead this Saturday (as per Sky Sports).
Lennon’s right-back options are further restricted by the absence of Hatem Abd Elhamed, with the Israeli defender not expected back until the end of the month (as per @CelticFC on Twitter), having been sidelined by a groin problem since early November (as per Daily Record).
If neither of those are available this weekend, it would leave Moritz Bauer as the Hoops’ only senior right-back, with the on-loan Austrian making just seven starts all season and none since the Europa League clash at CFR Cluj in mid-December. However, McNamara has backed the 27-year-old to step up if needed, telling Football Insider: “He could do. I don’t know how Elhamed is or anyone else. He has got three right-backs at the club but Bauer should be able to deputise and take that position, for now, to help out.”
If Frimpong does not recover in time for the Ross County game, his absence would deprive Celtic of a strong attacking threat down the right flank, with the 19-year-old scoring twice and providing two assists in 12 Premiership games so far this season. Such has been Lennon’s faith in the youngster that he has started every league match bar one since the start of November (as per TransferMarkt).
However, as McNamara has said, Bauer should be capable of stepping into the breach if required. The Austrian, who joined on loan from Stoke in late August, has registered two assists from his 10 Celtic appearances and has done so in 646 minutes of game-time for the club – Frimpong has the same number of assists from 1,313 minutes on the pitch for the Hoops.
The 27-year-old may be playing second fiddle to his younger right-back team-mate but he has some big-game experience from playing 15 Premier League matches for his parent club as well as winning six caps for Austria. It’s also worth remembering that Lennon chose him ahead of Frimpong when submitting his squad for the Europa League group stage in September, so McNamara is right in saying that Bauer should be more than capable of stepping up if called upon this weekend.
Celtic fans, do you share McNamara’s faith in Bauer’s ability to step up if needed or do you think Frimpong would be a major loss? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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