3 viable candidates to replace Tom Rogic in Celtic XI
Just as Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was able to put out his strongest possible XI, Tom Rogic gets injured.
The Socceroo will miss action for both Celtic and Australia, as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained against Hibernian. Sod’s law dictates that if you’re excited about a player, or players, they’ll get injured.
It’s not all gloom, though.
With the minutes Rogic was amassing, it was inevitable that he’d need a break at some stage. As much as the Rogic-Turnbull duo was beginning to click, a few games out won’t hamper their progress indefinitely.
Promisingly, in fact, it allows for Postecoglou to give a chance to someone else in the squad. Who has the magic to replace Rogic on a temporary basis?
We’ll need someone who has bags of tricks, an excellent first touch and the vision to unlock stubborn Scottish defences.
Let’s take a look at three guys who might just fit the bill.
Jota could seamlessly move into Tom Rogic role
He plays on the left, he plays on the right, but can João Pedro Neves Filipe – Jota to you and I – fill in for Tom Rogic?
It’s not that hard to imagine. David Turnbull has done the lion’s share of running and passing out of himself and midfield partner Rogic. If you put Jota in, who has endless trickery and the ability to either assist or take a chance himself, it could work.
The potential problem for him is physicality. Coming up against midfield stoppers might be an issue, especially if their tactic is to nullify the tricky Portuguese forward with robust challenges.
Rogic, undoubtedly, has a totally different frame to Jota. The Benfica loanee is considerably shorter and lighter. But how much does that matter?
This also opens up an opportunity. Mikey Johnston and Liel Abada could be tried as a wing duo, with Kyogo slotting in the middle. Given Jota’s proclivity to find the Japan international in space, it’s doubtful he’d have a problem moving into midfield.
Time to shine for Ewan Henderson?
If you want a dynamic, attacking midfielder to step in for Rogic, you could do far worse than Ewan Henderson.
The Celtic Academy graduate has watched on in frustration, as his once-promising first-team prospects have faded since Brendan Rodgers was at the club. In pre-season, though, Henderson played a few different roles, and for my money he was best behind the striker.
If Postecoglou wants to properly assess his squad depth before January, this is surely a good opportunity. Henderson is one of those players on the fringes, who really needs competitive minutes for Celtic.
Something of a utility man, Henderson made an impression in midfield for Dunfermline last season. It’d be a big ask to fill in for Tom Rogic, but we’re unlikely to see a time when there’ll be a better chance to see if he can do it.
Bring in James McCarthy for Tom Rogic and move Callum McGregor forward?
Remember we signed James McCarthy?
That had to be for a reason. The Ireland international has struggled with Covid-19 and injuries since joining the club, and has probably been given an unfair reception thus far. It’s hardly his fault, to be quite honest.
Ergot, he needs a run of games to prove why it was worth bringing him in on a four-year deal [Celtic FC].
This does, though, make Celtic’s midfield a bit less attack-orientated. You have the advantage of being able to play Callum McGregor further up, but the captain’s ability to keep up a high tempo is advantageous.
But, McCarthy does offer rangy passing and an ability to anchor the defence. There are pros and cons here. But what’s clear is that we’re going to need to see him in the team at some stage to make a better assessment.
Why not now?