Mikey Johnston has been ruled out of Celtic’s Premiership clash with Motherwell tomorrow and Hatem Abd Elhamed could also miss the trip to Fir Park.
Celtic’s official Twitter channel reported quotes from manager Neil Lennon saying that the Israel defender “is a doubt for tomorrow” and that the young Scottish winger “will just miss out” before adding that he “should be okay” for Tuesday night’s Champions League qualifier against CFR Cluj.
Abd Elhamed was substituted after 51 minutes in last week’s win over St Johnstone with a dead leg but played 87 minutes in the 1-1 draw against CFR Cluj on Wednesday, while Johnston was not in the matchday squad for the game in Romania.
Abd Elhamed may have had an abortive debut for Celtic, but still did enough to leave these Hoops supporters waxing lyrical about his performance, as reported by The Scotsman.
He also helped to set up James Forrest’s equaliser against CFR Cluj on Wednesday, with Sourav Mahanty of The Celtic Bhoys saying that he “looked shaky defensively early on” but “improved as the game settled“.
If Abd Elhamed isn’t fit enough to face Motherwell tomorrow, Lennon could face a dilemma as to who will start at right-back.
Anthony Ralston, the only natural alternative to Abd Elhamed in that position, has started just one game for Celtic so far this season and came on for the Israel defender last Saturday in his only other appearance.
Lennon could also decide to play Kristoffer Ajer at right-back, with the Norway international adopting that role for both legs of last month’s Champions League qualifying tie against Sarajevo.
Johnston has had a very encouraging start to the season, scoring twice and supplying two assists in his four appearances thus far.
His goal which initiated the 7-0 thrashing of St Johnstone last week was a thing of beauty, running his marker ragged by shuffling the ball from one foot to the other before coolly dispatching a shot to the far corner of the St Johnstone net. [via SPFL on YouTube].
Johnston could have done damage against Motherwell given his current form, although it is encouraging that Lennon has given him a chance of being fit for Tuesday’s clash against CFR Cluj.
The stakes are far higher for Celtic in that game than they are tomorrow, with a win or a 0-0 or 1-1 draw needed to progress to the Champions League play-offs whereas they will still have 36 Premiership matches to play after the trip to Fir Park.
Therefore, Lennon could be tempted to give Abd Elhamed a chance to recover fully for Tuesday and instead go with Ralston or Ajer at right-back against Motherwell.
Celtic fans, how do you feel about Abd Elhamed and Johnston missing tomorrow’s game provided they are both fit for CFR Cluj on Tuesday? Comment below with your thoughts!
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