Celtic right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed has touched on being dropped from the first-team for recent matches.
The Israeli didn’t feature in recent games against Hibernian and Livingston respectively. He did feature against CFR Cluj on Thursday, but also didn’t start against Kilmarnock several weeks ago at Parkhead either.
Instead, Neil Lennon has turned to Moritz Bauer, as a rotational system kicks into effect at right-back. Despite not playing in every game, it’s still clear that Elhamed is the first choice. He plays in all of Celtic’s big games, and Lennon clearly trusts him more than anyone else.
For the first time, Elhamed has touched on this rotational policy, Speaking to the Celtic View about being dropped (Volume 55, Issue 14, Page 23), the former Hapoel Be’er Sheva man doesn’t seem too concerned whatsoever.
“Competition is very important. It gives you more motivation to play good and show your best football. Moritz is a good guy and a great player and we get the best out of each other.
“Every player wants to play every single game, but that’s not always possible. I was out for two games so I needed to show I could come into a tough European game and perform.
“The demands of playing at a big club means we are expected to win every single game, and we cannot do that if we lose focus.”
Elhamed has no qualms over Lennon’s rotation
Elhamed shows exactly the kind of attitude that Lenny needs from his first-team stars. He clearly understands where the team is at and where he fits in with the manager’s plans.
You could question the pros and cons about this all day. Yes, it keeps things fresh and allows different players opportunities to impress. Or you could also twist it and say that it ruins consistency and breaks up momentum. Either argument is plausible, and one is often used more than the other depending on results.
So far, Elhamed has made 10 appearances to Bauer’s four. Granted, the Austrian only signed for the club in late August, whilst the Israeli arrived one month earlier.
What’s important here, however, is that we have cover in the position. The right-back area looked disastrous as recently as June when Mikael Lustig, Cristian Gamboa, and Jeremy Toljan had all departed. The additions of Bauer and Elhamed have been massive for the club. Added to that, we have another fine young talent in Jeremie Frimpong learning his trade too.
The second most important thing is that all players are happy with the situation. Elhamed clearly doesn’t seem bothered with it, and Bauer will just be happy that he’s playing again after a year without regular football at Stoke City.
We should, in all seriousness, just be thankful that we’ve sorted the position out. Over the course of the season, we’ll reap the rewards of having such strength in our ranks.