Celtic summer-target David Turnbull likely won't play until after Premiership split

By David Walton

February 2, 2020

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson has confirmed that David Turnbull likely won’t play until after the Premiership split.

Turnbull was close to a summer move to Celtic until he, unfortunately, failed a medical. The deal was to be worth a reported £3.25m (Scottish Sun), but Turnbull needed a lengthy spell on the sidelines after surgery to fully overcome his knee problems.

Eight months on from the failed deal, Turnbull still hasn’t played a single game of football. His last game for Motherwell came back in May 2019 (Transfermarkt).

Former Celtic target David Turnbull (David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

And, speaking to the Motherwell Times, Robinson confirmed his belief that he doesn’t expect Turnbull to return anytime soon.

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“David won’t be back for the Celtic game (at Fir Park this Wednesday) – I don’t think he’ll be back before the split.  I don’t want to put a timeline on anything.

“We’ll let David recover as quick as we can. I’d love to see him back. Maybe that’s what we needed against Livingston.

“I think if David had been on the pitch it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference.”

Late return surely means no summer move from Celtic

This could be quite telling with regards to whether we would reignite our interest in the summer or not. Had Turnbull been fit early on post-winter break, it could’ve allowed him to build up a case for Celtic to come back in for him.

Unfortunately for the midfielder, coming back after the split won’t give him that opportunity. He would only have five games to prove himself, and Celtic would surely want to see how he does over a longer period post-injury.

That’s also not even taking into consideration how Robinson integrates him back into the team. It’s not as if Turnbull is going to come back to the Fir Park starting XI and play 90 minutes every week until the end of the season.

Motherwell manager Steve Robinson (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Motherwell have third place to play for. If it’s still tight around April time, and it likely will be, then Robinson won’t be taking any unnecessary chances. It’s not inconceivable that Turnbull doesn’t actually play at all.

Robinson has said that he doesn’t want to make a timeline. However, he inadvertently has done considering he’s given an informed prediction on Turnbull’s return. It remains to be seen how true that is of course, but you have to take Robinson at face value here.

So it’s disappointing that he’ll likely be back only weeks before the end of the campaign. Hopefully, he manages to have a successful end to the campaign. But will it lead to a Celtic offer? Highly unlikely.