Charlton boss Lee Bowyer has given a grim warning to Celtic as he stated that Alfie Doughty may not be the same player after his hamstring injury.
Doughty was courted by the Hoops during the summer, with Celtic firing in multiple bids to secure his services. This was met with stern resistance from Bowyer, who slammed the champions for their “silly” offer (Glasgow Times).
Since then, Celtic have been linked with a pre-contract move for the young winger (Glasgow Times), before he then picked up a serious hamstring injury that is scheduled to keep him out of action for months (London News Online).
And Bowyer is worried that the injury could see Doughty come back a different player, and not in a good sense.
As quoted by London News Online, Bowyer said: “We have to look and see how he comes back from injury – he’s already had one setback before he even got off the bed. It’s such a difficult injury that he’s trying to come back from for someone of his age.
“Of course we want him to sign, but he has to be careful as well. If he comes back none of us know if he’ll be the same player – because his game is all about pace and he has done his hamstring.
“For Alfie, at this young age, it’s a bad one to have. No-one knows how he is going to come back yet. Rehab is really, really important for him. If he comes back and he’s the Alfie of before and decided not to sign the contract then that is something we’ll have to revisit.”
Worth taking the punt on?
Outside of wages, there is nothing else that would eat up finances for Celtic if they take this deal. Doughty could arrive on a free contract, meaning he wouldn’t cost the Hoops a thing in terms of a transfer fee.
So taking that in mind, you would imagine his injury wouldn’t put Celtic off bringing him to Glasgow. Not when we were so interested in the summer.
However, we still have to be careful that we’re not investing in a player who turns out to be injury-prone or struggles to hit the levels he’s been used to. Celtic were looking at him on the basis of what he was producing before his injury. If that differs to any extent after his return then it will be a big setback for him.
Neil Lennon has to be careful or at least wary of this if he’s looking to bring Doughty in to be an immediate first-team contender. We don’t need any passengers during the second half of the season, and if we’re relying on him to be a key figure down either flank this season, he has to be producing a solid level of performance.
It’s different if Celtic view him as a long-term option. Then the risk becomes a bit more worth it with the safety net of a long-term vision in place. It all really depends on what Celtic’s vision is for him.
There’s some big decisions to be made in January. Judging whether Doughty will be worth a move next month will be one of them.