Celtic manager Neil Lennon explained why he brought Christopher Jullien back into the starting lineup tonight, speaking pre-match on BT Sport 3 (17:45).
Before tonight Jullien hadn’t featured for the club since way back in September, suffering from a back problem that required specialist treatment abroad.
Despite that lack of action, he’s been thrown into a hugely important clash away to Sparta Prague, even though the manager has other experienced players such as Shane Duffy and Nir Bitton on the bench.
It was a bold call.
Getting the Frenchman back into the starting eleven appears to have been a huge priority for the manager.
Speaking to BT Sport 3 (17:45), Lennon said: “It’s great to have Jullien back. He’s worked very hard to get back to match fitness. It’s important not only for him to play tonight but get the 90 minutes.
“Him and Ajer had a good partnership last year so hopefully he can come in and do the job we know he can.
“Sparta are very good on the counter and quite clinical. But we gave them the initiative in the last game.
“We want a reaction from that, we didn’t do ourselves justice at all. I really hope we can play the style of football we can.”
It should be said that the appearance of Jullien in tonight’s starting eleven was likely a welcome sight for many supporters.
You can see why Lennon has rushed him back to action. The defender was one of our best players last season.
So far, at half-time, it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster match, though it’s now rapidly descending into a further crisis for the Bhoys.
Celtic scored a class goal through the returning Odsonne Edouard, but slack defending from a set-piece again resulted in an opposition goal. Jullien failed to clear his lines effectively, though the goal was not solely his fault.
Then, defensive calamity struck again, with Lukas Julis exploiting Hatem Abd Elhamed, Kristoffer Ajer, Scott Bain and Jullien to put the home side ahead.
Hopefully we see better after the interval.