Celtic manager Neil Lennon has had mixed news on the injury front ahead of his team’s Premiership assignment tonight.
As noted by BBC, the Hoops’ boss welcomes back Ryan Christie from a recent knee injury but will again be without winger Mohamed Elyounoussi due to a foot problem.
According to BBC, Celtic are also waiting on the fitness of Jonny Hayes and Mikey Johnston ahead of tonight’s match at Hearts, with the duo set to face a further check prior to kick-off to assess their chances of featuring at Tynecastle.
The return of Christie, Celtic’s top scorer so far this season with 16 goals, is certainly a welcome boost for Lennon, although the manager could have a big call to make regarding the left winger position.
Elyounoussi had been thriving in that role earlier in the campaign, scoring six goals in nine appearances on the left flank before injuring his foot in last month’s international break, a knock from which he has yet to return.
Johnston is likely to play in that position if he is declared available for tonight’s match, having lined up on the left multiple times already this season and bounced back from a hip and groin injury in the autumn by scoring two goals and setting up one.
If the 20-year-old isn’t fit, however, Lennon will probably need to turn either to a player who has barely featured this season or one who has been pilloried by numerous Celtic fans.
Lewis Morgan, the left winger who has started at centre-forward in recent weeks, has scored just twice and set up three goals in 18 games so far this term and was castigated by a lot of Hoops supporters on Twitter over his recent displays against Hamilton and CFR Cluj.
Scott Sinclair ended a two-and-a-half-month absence from first team action by being given his first start of the season on the left flank in last week’s defeat to CFR Cluj, a game for which Lennon made nine changes to his starting line-up.
If Johnston is available to play, he looks likely to assume the left winger role. If not, though, Lennon could have to gamble on either the much-maligned Morgan or the potentially rusty Sinclair.
At least the latter has a fine track record to call upon, with 62 goals in 167 games for Celtic, but his considerable inactivity this season suggests that Lennon does not have much trust in him, as he has just 176 minutes under his belt in all competitions this campaign.
He may need to swallow his pride tonight and give Sinclair a first league start of 2019/20 if Johnston can’t play.
Celtic fans, how damaging would Johnston’s absence be if he isn’t available tonight? Who would you pick in his place in that instance? Comment below with your views!
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