Celtic must add a right-winger in January after recent blows highlight key concern
Initially it looked like a good decision – choosing not to add another right-winger appeared to make sense over the summer.
Celtic were able to look at their options and see James Forrest, Jeremie Frimpong, and Hatem Elhamed. That’s a strong-looking trio to power on with over the next few months.
However, perhaps we simply didn’t see just how this virus could rip through a certain position in the squad. Elhamed tested positive for the virus after team-mate Nir Bitton did similarly. Both coming at a time when James Forrest appears to be out for the medium to long-term.
That creates a massive issue for Celtic ahead of this weekend’s clash with Rangers and Thursday night’s mouth-watering Europa League game against AC Milan.
Frimpong remains available, but he’s the only right-sided winger/wing-back available to play. With Forrest and Elhamed out, an injury to Frimpong would be pretty disastrous, as it would leave us with no width on that side.
Considering Ryan Christie is self-isolating, we can also forget pushing him onto the right side and having him cut in on his left-foot. The options simply aren’t there, and all of a sudden, it’s looking like we really could do with another option in that position.
A shrewd January buy
With the January transfer window around two-and-a-half months away, it’s clear we would be as well adding one more to the area.
Celtic were linked with Christian Atsu of Newcastle United this summer (Sports World Ghana). Whilst it initially looked like the right decision not to bother adding another right winger to the club, Forrest’s injury and Elhamed’s positive test shows how crucial another option is.
Celtic do have defenders who can feature at right-back if necessary. The likes of Shane Duffy and Kris Ajer have played there before in their careers. But considering we often like to play with a 3-5-2, only Forrest and Frimpong are the suitable candidates to play on the right side. Elhamed can be used at a push.
Recent blows have shown just how vulnerable we can be in the position given Forrest’s injury history. Making a move for another in January would go a long way to halting concerns like this in the future.
Yes, we have Karamoko Dembele who can come into the senior squad as back-up to Frimpong just now. But would Neil Lennon really throw him in against Rangers or AC Milan if he could help it? It’s not an ideal stage to get launched into when you’re an inexperienced youngster.
We’ll see what Celtic do in the January window, but for now, we just need to hope Frimpong doesn’t pick up any knocks. If he does, we will have no width on the right side.