Missing out on Smith highlights the folly in prematurely discarding Mikael Lustig

TOMMY SMITH could have been heading to Stoke rather than Glasgow last night after leaving the Huddersfield pre-season training camp in Austria. Celtic have focused in Smith over the past week or so as they seek a replacement for first pick Mikael Lustig who was allowed to leave at the end of May, with apparently no replacement lined up.

Yet last night Celtic sources were convinced that Neil Lennon had got his man and that Smith would be a Celtic player by the weekend subject to a medical.

Then late last night news broke that Celtic could have been pipped at the post on this one – and let’s face it few regarded Tommy Smith as a marquee singing and most would rate the current Sweden right back who was desperate to stay at Celtic as the better option over a guy who could have decided to opt for Championship side Stoke City rather than Champions League side and Treble Treble winners Celtic.

Top of Lenny’s right back shopping list was Jack Stacey, but he opted for a move from Luton to Premier League side Bournemouth last week in a £4million move – more that Celtic had offered.

Yesterday Huddersfield played two closed door matches against Austrian side Greuther Furth but Smith did not take part and left the squad after saying his goodbyes, to make his way back to the UK.

Whether his destination is Glasgow or Stoke, we’ll find out one way or the other today. If it’s Stoke then Neil Lennon could return to Sheffield Utd’s right back George Baldock – having previously had a bid rejected. And there is also the possibility that Celtic summer shopping spree will continue down at Kilmarnock. Sometimes needs must.

Anthony Ralston is the ONLY right back at the club and he was not given a start in Sarajevo on Tuesday night, with Kris Ajer being asked to stand in on the right hand side of The Celtic defence.

Meanwhile James Lea Siliki will be at Celtic this weekend but only to play for French Cup winners Rennes in a friendly. Reports that Celtic were lining up an £8million bid are wide of the mark.

And if Tommy Smith has decided that he’d rather play his football at Stoke City rather than Celtic then he probably not the type of player we’re looking for. We’ll find out where he’s heading soon enough but where it’s Smith, Baldock or someone else Celtic are in desperate need of a new right back.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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