Luca Connell’s Celtic debut in competitive action should come on Tuesday night in Tallinn.
Celtic take a commanding 5-0 lead over Nomme Kalju to Estonia this week. The mauling the Hoops gave their Champions League second qualifying round opponents gives Neil Lennon some real flexibility with his team.
The Celtic manager has already name-dropped several players to get a start this week (Scottish Sun). Unfortunately, Connell wasn’t one of them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t in Neil Lennon’s plans.
The Irishman has only made one appearance for Celtic since signing from Bolton this summer. That came in a pre-season friendly against Rennes, where he lasted most of the contest before being hooked.
In that match two weeks ago, Connell showed glimpses of his confidence and composure on the ball. But supporters still don’t know much about him heading into the new season.
Giving the youngster his competitive debut in Estonia could tell us a bit more about the type of talent we have on our hands here. and in a low-pressure environment too. It also gives Lennon the chance to give Callum McGregor a rest heading into what will be a grueling season.
It’s the perfect time for Luca Connell’s Celtic debut
Sure, there are arguments for the alternatives. Lennon could use the contest to boost Olivier Ntcham’s match-sharpness. He could also see what Eboue Kouassi has in his locker if he’s ready to go. But, in truth, Connell is the man who supporters would generally like to see most.
Lennon hasn’t really gone deep into what his plans for the midfielder are. If he really does view him as a first-team rotational player this season, it would be positive to have a further look at him from a supporters’ point of view.
It would allow the likes of McGregor to gear up for this weekend’s Premiership opener against St Johnstone. Considering the club came under some criticism from supporters for his stat about playing the most minutes out of anyone in world football last season, they could do with giving him a rest.
Things have gone quiet over Connell’s next opportunity in a Celtic shirt too. The midfielder hasn’t made any of the squads in our three competitive contests so far. Perhaps that doesn’t bode well for him this Tuesday.
But isn’t this the best time for us to get another look at him? There really is no pressure on Tuesday night. Kalju won’t beat us 6-0, regardless of some of our away-day horror shows in the past.
With a bit of luck, a few of our first-team fringe stars make a good impression ahead of the Premiership campaign kicking-off. And if Connell could be one of them, it would be a nice little boost heading into the season.