CRISTIAN GAMBOA will start for Celtic tonight in the Champions League qualifier against Rosenborg, as Brendan Rodgers turns to the Costa Rican who looked like he had little chance of playing for Celtic again just before setting off for his very impressive World Cup campaign.
Had Gamboa been a new signing after the World Cup we would have been raving about him. As it is, the right back has an rather unexpected opportunity to impress Rodgers due to a defensive shortage brought about by a number of factors.
The World Cup is one, denying Rodgers both Lustig and Boyata this evening.
Suspensions is another – Simunovic picked up a red card last week and is out tonight and that could be extended by UEFA on Friday.
And injury is the third reason – experienced German defender Marvin Compper , who has played for 83 minutes against Morton so far as a Celtic player since his arrival in January is once again sidelined. Few have any faith in him turning things round as a Celtic player.
Gamboa will line up alongside three very young players tonight in Jack Hendry, Kristoffer Ajer and Kieran Tierney – who was yesterday recognised by UEFA as an extra special young talent.
Rodgers spoke yesterday about the impossible task he faces in trying to recruit an experienced, high quality central defender – something that the support has been asking for for several years.
“The problem is if you are going to bring in a top centre-half then that is going to cost you money. It is as simple as that — and BIG money.
“You bring in players who fit the model of the club and you develop them and improve them, and then eventually they move on.
“Somewhere along the line you will need that level of experience to come in and try and support, and then you hope that can work out for you. But the club works in a specific way.
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know if you are going to improve drastically from what this group is at, that in order to make the improvements people want, it costs money. But that is out of my control.”
And it could get worse for Dedryck Boyata may decide within the next week or so that his future lies elesewhere – probably in England. Lyon were reported preparing a bid but the word in France is that they have cooled their interest, presumably after conversations with the player’s agent.
“Dedryck has got a year left on his contract. He’s done well in the last 18 months for us and did well at the World Cup, so naturally there’s going to be interest in him.
“We don’t want to lose him, he’s a very valuable player for us. But at some point if he doesn’t sign his contract then of course he’ll go into his last year.
“Then naturally what happens is he either goes on to another club or stays.
“At this moment Boyata is very important for us to help us achieve our early season goals.”
Rodgers was asked if Celtic would sell Boyata rather than let him run down his final year in his contract.
“I’m not sure there’s an offer that would make us even think about it because of the stage of the season we’re at.
“We’re playing very important games and we need our best players available.”
If Boyata is looking for a move to England, it will obviously happen before their window closes on the same week the winners of tonight’s second round tie are due to play AEK Athens.
Celtic received a £9million windfall payment from Southampton after Liverpool bought Virgil van Dijk in January this year. That money was not included in the last set of Celtic accounts but will be there now.
It would be worthwhile investing that in our own defence surely?
If Boyata goes, we’ll get a decent price too – maybe £8million…