Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said that winger Marian Shved will be cut from the Hoops’ squad for the Europa League knockout stages.
The Daily Record reported that Lennon stated his intention to omit the 22-year-old from the group of players to be considered for inclusion for the rest of the European campaign. Each club can make three changes from their group stage squad, with January arrivals Patryk Klimala and Ismaila Soro set to directly replace the now-departed Scott Sinclair and Lewis Morgan.
Lennon, who hinted that Jeremie Frimpong will also be called into the squad for the knockout rounds, said that Shved has “found it difficult” and “struggles with the English”, adding: “in training at times he’s not at the level the rest of them are”. [via Daily Record]
Last August, Lennon called out Shved over his application, saying that he “needs to up his tempo and his work” when asked about the winger by Celtic-focused media channel @90MinuteCynic (via celtsarehere.com). However, during last month’s mid-season training camp in Dubai, the manager said that the 22-year-old had been “training well” and “looking lively”, adding that he could get “an opportunity to just explode onto it” (as per The Scotsman).
Lennon’s various comments on the Ukrainian over the last few months have seen him waver from one opinion to another, but one near-constant has been his exclusion of Shved from matchday action. The winger has made just two substitute appearances all season totalling 35 minutes, with the last of those coming nearly four months ago, and he has not even made the bench in any game since mid-October. [via TransferMarkt]
He has been continually overlooked despite Celtic’s wide options being trimmed substantially in recent weeks. Sinclair and Morgan have moved on to Preston and Inter Miami respectively, while Mohamed Elyounoussi is only just back from a lengthy injury absence and Mikey Johnston suffered a suspected knee ligament injury last week.
James Forrest, who plays on Shved’s preferred right flank, also had a brief spell out with injury last month, while Jonny Hayes – the only other right winger in the Hoops’ first team squad – has been used exclusively on the left this season.
Lennon is best placed to comment on Shved’s application in training, given that he works with the winger on a daily basis, so his constructive criticism of the Ukrainian could be very much justified. However, it seems strange that he would perform such a sharp U-turn on his assessment of how the 22-year-old has been training from last month to now. Also, Shved would be entitled to feel aggrieved over being constantly overlooked despite several other Celtic wingers being injured or moving on, while he showed with his goal against Nomme Kalju in Champions League qualifying that he can make an impact when given an opportunity.
The decision to drop him in favour of the more regularly-used Frimpong for the Europa League squad makes sense but he would be entitled to ask why he has not even been considered for domestic games with so many wingers unavailable and why his manager keeps offering contrasting public verdicts on him.
Celtic fans, is Lennon right to drop Shved from the Europa League squad? Do you think the winger has been given a raw deal by his manager overall? Have your say by commenting below!
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