KRISTOFFER AJER has had better games as a Celtic player. Last night he struggled to cope with the physicality of the AEK bruiser up front, got caught napping at the vital moment just before half-time when AEK stole an equaliser and then got himself booked in the second half which means that he is suspended for the return leg in Athens next Tuesday.
AEK only entered these warped UEFA qualifiers at this stage so obviously have no players going into the game on on cautions from earlier rounds. Just another example of the lack of a level playing field in this reserved for the rich UEFA competition.
Celtic’s goalscorer reckons Ajer will be a loss on Tuesday night in Athens but knows that there are others who can come in and help the team.
“It is unfortunate that Kris is suspended now, but we’ve got players who can come in and do the same job.
“It’s always a vital part of a squad that you’ve got guys who can come in and replace anyone injured or suspended.”
A player that is almost certainly needed for Tuesday is Dedryck Boyata, who if circumstances had been different, could have been joining Fulham today in a £12million move.
Judging by his social media post the other day he wanted to go but Brendan Rodgers has stopped that but indicated that he could be allowed to move later in the month to Spain or Italy.
Fulham may want to reflect on losing out on the Belgium World Cup star due to the English window closing early this season when they discuss the matter with their fellow Premier League clubs down the line – bet they go back to end August next year!
“I think we need to do our best to keep our top players and keep this team together. I think the club will be trying to keep everybody,” McGregor noted on his manager’s stance regarding Boyata.
Boyata is likely to be joined by Jozo Simunovic in Athens to give Celtic a more experienced defence. Mikael Lustig, who shares to responsibility for the AEK goal last night with Ajer and Kieran Tierney should make up the back four.
Tierney, who was Man of the Match last night, was also the subject of transfer speculation last month and Brendan Rodgers revealed earlier this week that he had successfully convinced the player to stay at Celtic.
One experienced player unlikely to feature in Athens is the one brought in in January for this exact situation. Marvin Compper, according to one of the pundits on SSB the other evening, came out for a post match training session at Celtic Park on Saturday after the Livingston game. This session was for players who did not feature in the 3-1 win over Kenny Miller’s side. Anyway not long into the work-out, Compper pulls up injured and hobbles off.
The German defender is simply not fit for purpose.