Back to reality for Celtic's Jeremie Frimpong despite clear enthusiasm

By David Walton

December 29, 2019

Celtic defender Jeremie Firmpong’s display at Parkhead today will surely have given Neil Lennon the chance to see his main area of weakness.

The wing-back wasn’t Celtic’s worst player on the pitch. That accolade could go to James Forrest or Boli Bolingoli. However, what he was was extremely ineffective despite his desire to make things happen.

Today, he was up against Rangers’ Borna Barisic, and there was an unusual hesitancy from Frimpong, particularly in the first 45 minutes. He didn’t look to really get down the right and make things happen. It was a bit of a mystery as to why that was the case.

Jeremie Frimpong has been impressive in recent weeks (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sure, Jeremie didn’t get any help from Forrest. In fact, the Scotland international was extremely poor in the support he gave the Dutchman.

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But in the second half we perhaps saw why Frimpong wasn’t at his usual lung-bursting self. When he did run at Barisic, he was far too easily shrugged off the ball. When he tried to take the Croat on, he was brushed out of the way with ease, with even the slightest nudge appearing to take him off balance.

Strength training required for Frimpong

This is a real concern for Lenny heading into the Europa League last-32 next year. He’s already confirmed that he’ll put Frimpong into the squad (Sunday Post), and given his recent rise to prominence, you can expect him to play in the last-32 also.

Frimpong took on responsibility today, but just looked hesitant (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

That means he could come up against Copenhagen, and he’ll need to be a lot stronger than he was today. Lennon will surely have seen after this one that Jeremie needs to get on the weights and get stronger. Riding challenges is something he doesn’t do enough.

Frimpong still deserves credit for what he put into the game today. He didn’t hide, and was one of the players who took huge responsibility on the ball in difficult areas. But when he steps it up a level and faces opposition above the likes of Hibs and Aberdeen, he’ll need to be stronger.

Today was a little bit of a reality check for many in this Celtic side. Frimpong did well in the cup final at the start of the month, but he was still quiet going forward in that one too.

Frimpong has still to be tested at a higher level (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s not the worst thing in the world that he struggled today. It’s a reminder that he still has plenty of work to do when it comes to bulking up. It’s great to see his eagerness to still get on the ball, which is more than can be said for the likes of Forrest.

Today has to be a lesson for many in the Celtic squad, with Frimpong being one of them.