Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan described the 30-year-old winger’s frequent omission from the Hoops’ line-up as “baffling” and feels that he and Lennon must have fallen out with one another to prompt such a dramatic decline in game-time from previous campaigns.
Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s a baffling situation. There’s been a fall-out at the training ground, or something’s happened at the training ground. That’s the only explanation, really, that I can think of.
“Yes, Celtic have started the season very well, but Scott Sinclair is easily good enough to get in their squad and, in the team as well, when he’s fit and firing. Just look at his record under Brendan Rodgers. He was superb and won the Scottish Player of the Year.
“There’s obviously something happened behind the scenes with Lennon. Otherwise, he would be in the team. Yes, Celtic have some really good players, but Sinclair is a proven match-winner at that level.”
When looking at how much Sinclair’s game time has declined this season from his previous campaigns at Celtic, it is understandable why Whelan feels that something happened behind the scenes which prompted Lennon to banish the winger to the fringes of the squad.
In Sinclair’s first season with the Hoops in 2016/17, he made 50 appearances and scored 24 goals, getting 4,055 minutes of gametime. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
He made 55 appearances in the following campaign, scoring 18 times and playing for a total of 3,768 minutes. He played in 54 games for Celtic last season and scored 17 goals across 3,484 minutes. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
So far in 2019/20, he has been given just four appearances (all as a substitute) totalling 56 minutes. The last of those was against Motherwell on August 10th, which was also the last time that he even made it into a matchday squad. Sinclair has been nowhere to be seen for Celtic’s last nine matches. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
Having gone from making at least 50 appearances in each of the last three seasons to getting just over 50 minutes after 16 matches of the current campaign, and with no reports of any injury to the winger, it begs the question as to why he has gone from first team mainstay to outcast so quickly.
Publicly at least, Lennon has not given any indication of a dispute with Sinclair. BBC reported in July that the Celtic manager said “we don’t want him to go“, while he told Football Scotland last month that “we don’t want to treat him badly” despite his lack of gametime.
Until such time that the reasons for Sinclair’s continued absence from the Celtic squad are made known, it’s understandable why Whelan thinks there could have been something to cause a rift between him and Lennon, as the 30-year-old doesn’t seem to have had any discernible loss of form judging by his consistently high goal return for the Hoops.
Celtic fans, do you think Whelan’s suggestion that Lennon and Sinclair had a falling out may be true? Have your say in the comments section below!
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