Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that he’ll have no concerns throwing Jonny Hayes into the mix tomorrow night.
The Hoops continue to go through a bit of a left-back crisis at the moment. Kieran Tierney has been given until today to declare his fitness to the Celtic manager. In the meantime, there’s been no update on the Emilio Izaguirre injury situation.
That means Celtic could truly have to go with a player not naturally suited to playing in the position. And after making just his third start of the season against St Johnstone on Saturday, Hayes would have to be the frontrunner.
Speaking at a press conference via Monday’s Clyde 1 Superscoreboard show (0:12:28), Rodgers stated he would be open to playing the Irishman if necessary.
“Guys like Jonny haven’t been playing so much, but that’s a testament to how professional and focused they are.
“Absolutely (would play Hayes on Thursday. He’s a player who can play anywhere on that left-side. It’s just an unfamiliar position for him.
“You can see that once he makes a few passes and finds the space in the position, he can play it very well.”
False sense of security or a safe choice?
This is a debate that will certainly have plenty in either camp.
Hayes made just his third start of the season against St Johnstone. Before that, he had only made eight outings in total this term. In terms of being a first-team regular, that’s never been something you could apply to Hayes at Parkhead.
Rodgers may have stated in his conference that Hayes defended well on Saturday, but the truth is he barely had a thing to do defensively in the match. It’s certainly nothing compared to the rigours Valencia will put him through.
But then there’s the other side of the argument. Some may feel that Hayes’ speed and directness will be key in getting some joy out of a makeshift Valencia defence.
His assist for James Forrest’s goal in the St Johnstone rout was sublime, but whether we see that on Thursday night is doubtful.
What camp are you in? Should Hayes truly be given the nod if Tierney and Izaguirre aren’t fit?