KRIS AJER faces a fitness race to be back in the Celtic side for the Europa League match away to Rennes. The Norwegian defender went off in the early stages of Celtic’s impressive 4-1 win away to AIK Stockholm and sat out Sunday’s 2-0 win at Ibrox alongside fellow central defender Jozo Simunovic.
And Neil Lennon also watched on as Nir Bitton limped off after appearing to pull his hamstring when chasing a nothing ball to prevent a Rangers goal-kick. That injury looks like keeping the Israeli out for a month, according to the Celtic manager who gave us an update at yesterday’s eventful media conference.
“Nir will be three or four weeks, Ajer will be ten days. We are hoping to have him back for Hamilton,” Lenny revealed.
More ominously on Simunovic the Celtic manager added “we will need to send Jozo to a specialist.”
Incidentally Nir Bitton was having an outstanding game at Ibrox before having to go off injured and really should be considered as a central defender now rather than a midfielder playing out of position. He reads the game so well and is worthy of a new contract, as he is now in his final year of his existing deal. He wants to stay and has done more than enough to merit a new deal.
We had an article on The Celtic Star yesterday where Celtic fans were praising Bitton and you can read this HERE.
So as the central defence is now three players down, Neil Lennon will be glad of the recovery time that the International break gives his injured stars. And there’s better news on Tom Rogic, who is now ready to come back.
“I’m hoping to get Tom Rogic back in contention for the squad for the Hamilton game.
“He looks brilliant. He’s in great condition, he’s lost weight and he’s training well.”
No news on whether the Socceroos, who have been partly responsible for Rogic’s fading contribution to Celtic this year – dating all the way back to their decision to deny Celtic his services at Ibrox on 29 December last year, will be playing the talismanic Celtic man in their World Cup qualifier in Kuwait.
The Simunovic injury is another mystery. It seems that he aggravated his knee in training. There were transfer stories linking Simunovic with a move to Lille but you wonder if he’d ever be able to pass a medical at another club, given his ongoing issues with his knees.
He certainly will not be in contention for Celtic’s next game at Hamilton as it is on the plastic surface. With Ajer unlikely to be risked we’ll be down to Elhamed and Jullien, provided they stay fit and after that the next in line is Jack Hendry, who could have gone to Kilmarnock in the transfer window but chose to stay.
Lenny spoke about this yesterday too.
“There were other parties that might have intervened or interrupted the process.
“We will work away with Jack and get him up to speed, he has been out for a long time with injury. It’s going to be difficult for him but it’s down to him to take it head on,” the Celtic manager said.
Hendry knocked back a chance to go out to Kilmarnock on loan with team-mate Calvin Miller also rejecting a move to Rugby Park. This resulted in Celtic having to pay £2.2million for Taylor on the last day of the window.
Listen to Neil Lennon’s Media Conference below…
Also on The Celtic Star…
‘Offloading nothing but deadwood’ Liverpool laughs after Ibrox’s Shameful Sunday….see HERE.
‘Give Celtic a Director of Football, Mr Lawwell and Neil Lennon will deliver,’ Niall J…see HERE.
‘Spooked us from the beginning,’ Rangers fans grudging admiration for how Celtic Kicked-off Beautiful Sunday…see HERE.
Celtic’s Eventful Summer Transfer Window Reviewed – Board, Management, Players and Fans…see HERE.