Celtic boss Neil Lennon has provided us with an early injury boost ahead of next month, as he wants three stars to return in February.
Next month is going to be a biggie for the Hoops. We have eight games penned in for February, including two vital Europa League last-32 clashes against Copenhagen. As well as that, Celtic have trips to Fir Park, Pittodrie, and an intriguing Scottish Cup clash at Clyde.
We certainly have a mixture of big games coming up, but we also have some injury concerns. Nir Bitton, Mohamed Elyounoussi, and Hatem Elhamed are all still injured. Only Bitton has played since the winter break, but even that was only a cameo against Partick before picking up an injury.
Fortunately, it appears that all three men are set to make returns in February. Speaking in the Celtic View (Volume 55, Issue 27, Page 06), here’s what Lennon had to say:
“With a busy February ahead, we’re looking to get some of the injured guys back in – the likes of Bitton, Elyounoussi isn’t too far away, and Elhamed’s the same.
“We don’t know the extent of Jeremie’s injury yet, but the strength in depth of the squad is going to be important over the next few months.
“We’re now playing away from home for four games in a row, and two of those games will be on plastic, at Hamilton and Clyde, which is a tough ask, but we can’t let that affect us mentally.”
All three men have real quality
Elhamed, to start off, was our first-choice right-back for a reason. He started all of our first four Europa League group stage matches, helping us to secure 10 points out of 12 before his injury.
It looked like he was initially set to return before picking up a further knock in Dubai (Daily Record). His return, considering Frimpong’s current injury, is key.
It’s also important to remember the contribution Elyounoussi made too before his injury. He broke into the Celtic side back in September, managing seven goals and six assists before picking up a knock against Lazio (Transfermarkt). The Norwegian has only played 45 minutes since, and we’ve struggled for quality at left-mid in the meantime.
You then have Bitton, whose return after the winter break was a godsend given our lack of quality cover. His injury has us skating on thin ice at the back in terms of options, with only Jozo Simunovic available for cover. Therefore, his return can’t come quickly enough.
By the way Lennon is talking, it looks as though he’s looking to get all three players back before it gets too late into the month. The sooner the better given the quantity of games we have.
It’s a big boost for the club to have these players so close to a return. It should strengthen us substantially ahead of a vital month. Come the end of February, we’ll all have a better idea of where we stand. We need as much quality as we can get in the squad.