Celtic

Celtic: Kristoffer Ajer could miss the Hoops’ next two games with injury

Celtic: Kristoffer Ajer could miss the Hoops’ next two games with injury

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer could miss the team’s next two matches after being forced to pull out of Norway’s squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Herald Scotland reported that the 21-year-old will definitely miss the Hoops’ next game against Hamilton in the Premiership and is also doubtful for their opening Europa League group match against Rennes.

According to Herald Scotland, Ajer has been forced to rest for the next two weeks as he continues his recovery from the groin injury that he picked up in Celtic’s 4-1 win away to AIK last Thursday.

Ajer has operated as a centre-back for most of his career but he has been predominantly used as a right-back so far this season, with seven of his 11 appearances coming in that role.

He started all but one of Celtic’s European games in recent weeks and had also been in the starting line-up for every Premiership game until injury ruled him out of Sunday’s Old Firm win.

Ajer has won plenty of praise for the ease with which he has adapted to the right-back position, with Celtic manager Neil Lennon recently describing him as “a great asset for this club” and “a tremendous professional” with a desire to improve even further, as reported by Football Scotland.

John McGinley of 67hailhail.com said that he was “rapidly becoming the best right-back we’ve had for a number of years,” while ReadCeltic.com noted that numerous Hoops fans waxed lyrical about his performance against Hearts a couple of weeks ago.

Celtic added to their right-back options in the last few days with the loan signing of Moritz Bauer, who debuted at Ibrox on Sunday, and the permanent addition of Jeremie Frimpong.

However, 18-year-old Frimpong has never played a competitive match at senior level, while Bauer was frozen out of Stoke’s first team last season by Gary Rowett and made only eight league appearances.

Also, with an 85% passing success rate and an average of 2.7 successful aerial duels, four tackles and two interceptions per game in 2018/19, Ajer’s defensive statistics are notably higher than Bauer’s 79.9% passing accuracy and match averages of 1.4 successful aerial duels, one tackle and o.5 interceptions.

Ajer’s absence through injury on Sunday was attenuated by the return of Hatem Abd Elhamed to the side, but the Israel defender is also a converted right-back with more experience of playing centrally.

Also, with Bauer’s statistics inferior to the Norway defender’s and Frimpong lacking in experience, Ajer’s absence deprives Celtic of a defensively solid and adaptable right-back option.

With Rennes beginning their season with three wins out of four, they could seek to exploit that part of Celtic’s line-up if the 21-year-old is ruled out of the group stage clash in two weeks’ time.

Celtic fans, do you feel there is good enough defensive cover if Ajer misses the Europa League trip to Rennes? Let us know what you think by commenting below!

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