Celtic defender Hatem Elhamed has confirmed that he’s 100% fit to play again as he opened up on his Ibrox disappointment.
Elhamed had played a short 10-minute cameo against St Mirren a week before we were due to play Rangers. It was his first appearance in four months after coming off against Lazio with an injury in Rome back in November.
Elhamed has only played in one Glasgow derby out of three since arriving in Scotland. However, that ended successfully as we won 2-0 at Ibrox, with the player himself showing up well.
And despite gearing up for a second successive win in Govan over the course of last week, the game was suddenly called off just two days before it was due to happen. Elhamed, therefore, couldn’t hide his disappointment in comments published by the Scottish Sun, but he did confirm his fitness.
“There is uncertainty and everyone is asking where they are going from here. We have a very big gap in the table on the way to the championship and we wonder if we will be champions if they decide to end the season.
“It’s a shame, but it’s not in our hands. This is global. Personally, I am very disappointed with what is happening. I have been without football for four months and returned to play after a very long period of recovery and rehabilitation.
“I really wanted to play in the Glasgow derby. That would have been very interesting and challenging, especially when I’m 100 per cent fit. I hope it goes by as soon as possible, even though it doesn’t look that way.”
No guarantee that Elhamed would’ve started at Ibrox
There’s every reason to believe that Celtic would’ve gone with a 3-5-2 at Ibrox given the build-up to the game. There was a real demand to see both Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard up top, whilst it was also vital to flood the midfield.
However, that likely would’ve meant that there was no place for Elhamed to start. This is down to the fact that Nir Bitton had impressed in the three previous matches. Unlike his Israeli team-mate, Bitton wasn’t coming off of a long-term injury knock.
Bitton also impressed at Ibrox back in September during our 2-0 win. He and Jullien in particular were rocks at the back, and it would’ve been bemusing to see him dropped.
But at the same time, it’s great to hear that Elhamed is back fully fit once again. Considering he’s been out for such a long period of time, it’s surprising it hasn’t taken him longer to get back up to speed.
Of course, fitness and match sharpness are both two different things. He may have the former, but there can be question marks over whether he has the latter just yet.
Elhamed showed up well against St Mirren last time out. But there’s still a bit to go before he earns his place back permanently.