Teenage Celtic striker Jonathan Afolabi could be drafted into the first team after making an impression in training for the club.
According to Football Insider, Celtic’s coaching staff have been concentrating on building up Afolabi’s fitness following his arrival from Southampton last month, with club personnel believing that he will get a first team opportunity as the season progresses.
Afolabi has yet to feature for Celtic’s first team and has not played with their youth or reserve sides either. Indeed, he has never made a senior club appearance, having only represented Southampton’s youth teams so far in his career. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
However, he impressed for Republic of Ireland’s under-19 side during the summer, scoring once in helping his team to reach the semi-finals at the European Under-19 Championships in Armenia and being named in the Team of the Tournament.
With Lennon regularly opting for just one centre-forward in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and Odsonne Edouard netting six goals in 12 games across 1,004 minutes of football this season, Celtic’s other strikers have seen little action in recent weeks.
Leigh Griffiths has been the next most active, with his 312 minutes yielding three goals, while Vakoun Issouf Bayo has had 112 minutes without officially scoring – he claimed two goals against Hearts last month but both were later given by the SPFL as own goals.
Afolabi was not massively prolific at youth level for Southampton, with nine goals in 36 appearances for their under-23 side a decent yet unspectacular return.
However, a scout report by Soccersouls suggests that the teenager is a versatile, well-rounded forward player who can play in wide areas as well at centre-forward.
Celtic have already played 14 matches this season in all competitions, with only five of those in a Premiership programme that will conclude with 38 matches, and they also have six Europa League group games to come before Christmas. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
With the Betfred Cup in progress and the Scottish Cup to come, there will be plenty of games for Lennon to explore the depth of his squad over the course of the season.
Having played 52 Celtic games last season and 12 already this campaign, Edouard will likely need a rest at some point, which could give Afolabi the chance to shine. For now, even including the teenager on the bench would put him in the frame to get snippets of first team action in games, and he at least deserves a few opportunities to prove his worth for the Hoops.
Celtic fans, can you see Afolabi getting many games this season? Would you like to see him brought into the team soon? Comment below with your views!
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