Celtic manager Neil Lennon provided injury updates on two of his midfielders ahead of tonight’s Europa League clash against Lazio at Parkhead.
The Scottish Sun reported quotes from Lennon in which he confirmed that Tom Rogic is available for selection after training yesterday, but said that Olivier Ntcham remains out of action and will instead be targeting a return to action next weekend.
The manager said in Wednesday’s press conference: “Ntcham is still unfit and we are hoping he’ll be fit for the weekend. Rogic was training today and should be fine.” [via The Scottish Sun]
Ntcham picked up an ankle injury a week ago and was omitted from Celtic’s squad for their 6-0 win over Ross County last Saturday, as noted by the Evening Times.
The 23-year-old has been in and out of the Hoops’ starting line-up this season but has still provided three goals in all competitions from central midfield, as well as providing three assists, so his absence will deprive Lennon of an offensive threat from the middle of the park. [via TransferMarkt]
However, Rogic could well be the perfect candidate to step into the team in Ntcham’s absence. The 26-year-old Australian is a like-for-like attack-minded midfield replacement who has seen his game time limited by injuries, but has made his presence felt when called into the side. Indeed, last season, he completed the most dribbles per game from midfield than any other player for the club in the Europa League with 1.5 according to WhoScored.
He only returned to the fold in mid-September after being sidelined for a number of months with knee problems and, as noted by 67hailhail.com, he picked up another knock in recent weeks but recovered in time to play the full 90 minutes against Ross County.
Rogic has a goal and an assist to his name in four appearances totalling 209 minutes this season, which stands up in comparison to Ntcham’s three goals and three assists in 725 minutes of action (one of each per 241.67 minutes).
While the scoring and creative threat of Ntcham from midfield could be missed against Lazio, Rogic is also capable of providing goals and chances from a similar position and has actually posted a slightly better goal involvement average than the Frenchman this season.
The Australian‘s availability should compensate for the loss of Ntcham and, with the two of them starting just one match together (the Betfred Cup win over Partick Thistle) this season, Lennon has been spared a dilemma over which of the two to choose between.
Celtic fans, do you think Rogic’s return to fitness will compensate adequately for the absence of Ntcham against Lazio? Comment below with your views!
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