Former Celtic loan men Patrick Roberts and Filip Benkovic are desperately waiting for the New Year to arrive as they yearn to find new loan clubs, following unsuccessful spells away from their parent clubs this season.
Roberts and Benkovic, both 23, have been on loan at Championship sides Middlesbrough and Cardiff City this season, but due to a series of circumstances, the pair have struggled for game time in England’s second tier – with both being given the green light to move on.
Patrick was instrumental in a two-year loan spell at Paradise. A shining star in the 2016/17 season, Patrick scored eleven goals in all competitions for Brendan’s Bhoys; including a stunning solo goal against his parent club Manchester City in the Champions League. However, ‘Paddy’ is currently picking up splinters in his loan spell at Middlesbrough. Having played just 39 minutes of football in “Boro’s” last six games, boss Neil Warnock – who has recently turned 72 – has admitted he doesn’t want Roberts to move on, but will give him the green light to move if he would want more game time.
As per The Glasgow Times, Warnock revealed: “I’ve had a chat with Patrick, and he’s aware of the situation. I think the lad wants to play. I don’t want him to leave, but I’ve said to him that if he wants to, or if he thinks he can improve his chances of playing by going somewhere different, then I wouldn’t stand in his way.”
Given the injuries accrued by wee James Forrest, and the lack of natural depth on the right flank, a return to Parkhead could be a move suited to all parties for Roberts and the Bhoys’ – not only would Celtic be instilling some well-needed creativity and incisiveness, but they’d have a player who already knows the club and given his mentality, could provide vital knowhow for the title run-in.
Meanwhile, Filip Benkovic is appearance-less at Cardiff City, having joined the Welsh side on loan from Leicester this summer. Despite starring in a commandeering loan spell at Paradise in the 2018/19 campaign, former Bhoys’ boss Brendan Rodgers has questioned “Benko’s” fitness and commitment issues.
Speaking about the Croat, Rodgers was extremely critical of the man he took to Glasgow two years ago. “It’s something where we need to get Filip playing. He needs to get working again and show the level he can play at. Thankfully for myself, I’ve seen the level. When he was with me at Celtic he played against RB Leipzig and he was sensational. Since that first 10 games at Celtic, he hasn’t maintained a level of fitness and performance that I know he can.”
The Bhoys’ were linked with Benko this year, in a cash-plus-player move for Kristoffer Ajer by The Foxes, which many Celtic fans – according to the article – would ‘take in a heartbeat’. However, ‘Big Ajer’ would be sorely missed in an already underperforming Celtic backline, and surely any potential deal for Benko would only be sanctioned without other players leaving.
Something to keep your eyes on over the next couple of weeks.