As Celtic prepare to face Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi final this Sunday, most of the attention was drawn to our injury problems. Would Jota, Leil Abada or Reo Hatate be fit in time for the biggest game of the season?
Ange Postecoglou confirmed that should all go well in training, all three should be available for selection at the weekend. But what if they are not?
What if Jota and Abada are not fit enough to feature? Will Sead Haksabanovic be able to step up and put Rangers to the sword?
Chris Sutton seems to think so. And he backed the Celtic winger to give Borna Barisic something to think about.
Speaking on the Record Celtic podcast, Sutton said, “I think that Barisic is there to be got at and attacked in one v one situations.
“And that’s Haksabanovic’s strength. So I actually think that he has a decent future at Celtic.
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“Things haven’t worked out for various reasons. Injuries, Maeda ahead of him and Jota ahead of him and Abda ahead of him at times. Celtic have good competition in those wide areas.
“So this is a real opportunity for him. He came on in the league cup final and had a big chance. He went through one on one and didn’t quite take it.
“But these are the games where Celtic players remember you forever if you step up in these big games. There’s a big opportunity for him and one he actually should be relishing.
“Because as I say, in those one v one situations I think he has the ability to give Barisic a really torrid time.
“Rangers will have to make sure that Barisic has help. Whether it’s from a holding midfielder or Davies at left-centre half.
“They’ll have to be switched on because Haksabanovic does have the beating of Barisic.”
Why Sutton’s comments on the Celtic winger are interesting
Haksabanovic is clearly a talented player. Coming off the bench he has shown flashes of what he can do when given an opportunity.
But there is a huge difference between performing from the start and coming on after 60 minutes when teams are tiring and making mistakes.
And in the recent two starting opportunities Haksabanovic has had (against Hearts and Motherwell), he has failed to make any sort of impact on those games. And I’ve certainly not seen anything to suggest that the winger’s strength is running at defenders.
That’s not to say he won’t on Sunday if called upon. I certainly hope he does because that would do his confidence a world of good. And it could kick start his stuttering Celtic career.