Celtic are sweating on the fitness of two defenders ahead of Thursday’s Europa League last 32 clash away to FC Copenhagen.
As reported by the Daily Record, Neil Lennon is “hopeful” that he will have Jozo Simunovic back for the game after he missed Sunday’s trip to Aberdeen due to a hamstring problem, with the Croatian’s fitness to be assessed prior to the match in Denmark.
Simunovic’s absence would be very disappointing for him on a personal level, having recently re-established himself in the side after missing five months due to a knee injury that required a surgical clean-out (as per The Telegraph).
However, his omission from the team is one that Celtic should be able to absorb without too much hassle, given that they topped their Europa League group without him and have two centre-backs in Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer who have popped up with goal-scoring contributions of late. Lennon also has the option of putting Nir Bitton at centre-back, just as he did against Aberdeen.
The possible absence of Taylor could be a discernible blow to the Hoops, though. The 22-year-old had been enjoying a run of games in the team recently after struggling for minutes earlier in the season and showcased his creative influence by setting up two goals in the 5-0 thrashing of Hearts last week in what Hamish Carton of 67hailhail.com lauded as “a coming of age performance”.
If the Scotland left-back doesn’t make it for Thursday night, it would leave Lennon deciding between Jonny Hayes and Boli Bolingoli to take his place in the team. The former came on for Taylor against Aberdeen but was criticised by many Celtic fans afterwards and his performance at Pittodrie, in which he missed a glorious chance to score, was derided as “absolutely shambolic” by Sourav Mahanty of thecelticbhoys.com. Meanwhile, Bolingoli has been short of match practice, playing only the cup win against Clyde so far in 2020.
While the possible enforced omission of Simunovic would be a shame given that he has only just regained a regular starting berth, Lennon should have enough in-form centre-back options to overcome the 25-year-old’s potential absence.
However, the prospect of Taylor missing out is a frightening one given Hayes’ unconvincing form and Bolingoli’s lack of recent action. Also, if the Scotland defender has indeed damaged his hamstring after the weekend, the chances of him recovering in time for Thursday would seem very slim.
Celtic fans, how damaging would the potential absences of Simunovic and Taylor be for Thursday? Have your say by commenting below!
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